Thursday, June 27

Verity The Pregnant Nude Woman Of Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe pregnant statue

While away in North Devon we drove to the coastal town of Ilfracombe where controversy rages about the bronze statue which dominates the small harbour.

Verity, as the statue is called, is the work of Damien Hirst and towers 67 feet high. It's been described by some critics as outrageous, immoral, bizarre, offensive and disgusting. What seems to be upsetting people is that Verity is a nude, pregnant woman - but one half of her body has been peeled back to show the baby within the womb and her muscular structure.

Of course, others describe the statue as beautiful and unique.

Verity holds a sword in one hand, raised high above her and scales in her other hand, held firmly behind her back. She is standing on law books. How do we interpret this? The obvious is a link between the sword of truth and the scales of justice.

The official line is that it is 'a modern-day allegory for truth and justice.'

Damien Hirst has commented that, "Without the perfect equilibrium enacted by the scales, the sword becomes a dangerous instrument of power, rather than justice" Not sure if I fully grasp what he's on about, but it's probably not that important as ultimately it's good for the tourist trade. And Mr Hirst just happens to own a restaurant in the town.

Ilfracombe Damien Hirst pregnant woman statue

Ilfracombe harbour Devon

The photo above and at the top of the post were taken from St Nicholas Chapel - the chapel on a hill, that's the building below, proudly flying the Union Flag.

There is quite a contrast between Hirst's statue and the chapel. Verity was placed in position in 2012 but the chapel has been around since 1321. In the middle ages it maintained a light to guide shipping into Ilfracombe harbour - and still acts as a lighthouse today, said to be the oldest in England.

St Nicholas Chapel Ilfracombe

Inside St Nicholas Chapel Ilfracombe
Inside St Nicholas Chapel Ilfracombe
Ilfracombe harbour showing Verity
Verity the Nude Pregnant Woman Statue With the Chapel in the Background
Personally I liked both Verity and the chapel, and also the fresh air and cliffs of Ilfracombe even if it wasn't the sunny day I'd hoped for.

Other recent Devon posts:
The Photo Of The Ghost Of Broomfield Cottage Tawstock
The Red Sky And The Invasion Of The Scarecrows
The Strange Orbs And Mysterious Coincidences Of Tawstock

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Verity, Ilfracombe, Pregnant Statue


  1. Looks like a beautiful place, even without it being a sunny day. I love this statue. In the final photo, there's something truly majestic about the woman, standing there against the sky.

    1. I think it would be something special to see on a sunny day (like you seem to always have!).

  2. I love the statue as well, she looks magnificent.

    1. 'Magnificent' is a good description.

  3. Everything about these images are fascinating. I want to research Verity's creator and the whole process of choosing this location. Then I want to delve into the history of this harbor... Wow.

    1. Damien Hirst the creator of Verity is something of a controversial figure himself. A lot of his work isn't to my taste - or maybe I just don't 'get' some of it.

      It's a lovely coast line, lots of walks and the like though Ilfracombe town itself has seen better days.

  4. I do get this statue very much,in fact the post I'm working on at the moment (Dolphin Dreaming) will deal very much with what this statue represents to me personally.The funny thing is that my post has just about finished and this statue story has made that post concrete,because it will express what I'm trying to convey on a very personal level.But I must state that this story had no bearing on my upcoming post,it just illustrates it perfectly.I should have had it up a few days ago,but I had a feeling that it wasn't quite complete,as if there was a piece missing.
    Well,here is the piece that makes it complete.
    Thanks Mike.
    It will be up soon.

  5. Re:
    "It's been described by some critics as outrageous, immoral, bizarre, offensive and disgusting."

    First,I have to say that I'm a big fan of the statue and the little chapel on the hill,but if you think about it,that statement could equally apply to the chapel on the hill.
    Looking at the altar photo above we could say that the book open on the altar (that's for those who have actually read it from cover to cover,like I have)and the crucifix
    (an instrument of torture) are truly bizarre instruments of contemplation when you think about it.Even the altar
    (which is a place to slaughter and sacrifice things)could be seen as bizarre and offensive to some people.
    I'll bet that the people who find the statue offensive have no problem at all with the bizarre and potentially offensive and violent symbolism of the little chapel on the hill.

  6. Also looking at the altar shot I just thought of something amusing.I would imagine the choice of the brand of computers used in a chapel like this would have to be Windows,because Apple just wouldn't be the right choice,even if it seemed tempting to the congregation try.-)

  7. The statue also reminds me of this guy's project -

    Not that I agree with what he is saying on practical soul level,because I believe every soul is a complete entity long before their birth here,but as far as the physical body is concerned,I think he has a point.So I donated my icon to the project.

    1. Sorry Darren I've only just seen these comments - not sure how I missed them. I've read Dolphin Dreaming.

      As far as offensive is concerned: Some people will see this no matter what. It's the way of the world.

      Thanks for the Facebook link.

  8. Anonymous04:40

    I'm currently doing a critical analysis on this sculpture for my studies. Why do you think he has chosen a pregnant woman? He is such a controversial artist, and it's interesting that most people that are offended just can't get past the pregnancy part of it, and I wonder if they even consider the other symbols behind the art too?

  9. As I wrote, he chose the pregnant woman as 'a modern-day allegory for truth and justice.' Thus the sword, scales and law books she stands on.