Damien Hirst’s Controversial Pregnant Woman Sculpture in Ilfracombe

Oct 18, 2012 12 comments

The skyline of the seaside town of Ilfracombe in north Devon, England, is about to change, and not many residents are happy about it. A 20 meter high statue of a naked pregnant women wielding a sword is being erected on the coast. One side the woman’s skin is peeled back, revealing her skull, muscles and developing foetus in her stomach. The woman also carries a sword in her up stretched arm, and has scales hidden behind her back.

The bronze statue called “Verity” is the creation of the controversial English artist Damien Hirst who lives locally and owns a restaurant in the town. According to Hirst, “Verity” is a modern-day allegory for truth and justice. The figure’s stance is taken from Edgar Degas’s ‘Little Dancer of Fourteen Years’ which the artist used in his earlier bronze creation “Virgin Mother”.

Hirst’s statue has been loaned to the local authority by the artist for 20 years and will stand by the town’s pier.


Hundreds of residents wrote to the council to object, with one saying it would ‘encourage teenage pregnancies’. Another said it was ‘demeaning to women’ while a third claimed it was ‘eccentricity posturing as art’. It has been called every derogatory word in the book - outrageous, immoral, bizarre, offensive, distasteful, embarrassing, grotesque, disrespectful, insensitive, inappropriate, a monstrosity, tasteless, ugly, vulgar and of no artistic merit.

But still the council has agreed to let this sculpture take pride of place on the idyllic British coastline at Ilfracombe.

"We've relied, as a holiday resort, on our natural charm and beauty, but that's not enough in the present day. Hotels are closing, so we've got to do something to boost the economy and we're looking at the arts as a way of encouraging visitors," says Ilfracombe councillor Mike Edmunds.

'Verity' was made in over forty individual castings at Pangolin Editions foundry in Gloucestershire. The frame was fabricated in a single piece of stainless steel. The bronze parts were cast in pieces using sand moulds, which were then metalworked and reassembled around the steel frame. The sword and upper arm is a single piece of glass fibre reinforced polymer and the entire piece underwent significant windtunnel testing in order to ensure it was capable of withstanding the extreme force of high winds and sea spray.











via BBC and TheAustralian


  1. I actually really like this.

    1. I would think "enlightened" women world wide would hail this as fantastic. Real, accurate, informative, she is obviously no push over. I think it looks great.

  2. Slightly incorrect stats. The majority of the letters received by the local authorities were in favour as is most of the town.

  3. I love it! I find it empowering.

  4. Stunning, powerful, beautifully-constructed piece.

    This should go without saying, but if someone really did protest that it would encourage teen pregnancy, I'd like to point out the obvious: ignorance causes teen pregnancy, not art.

  5. I like it too! It's kind of Sci-Fi looking... They should put up the Alien next!

  6. Saw this piece at the weekend ; just thought what a fantastically graceful pose. how can anyone be offended by Verity ? We are all made of flesh, blood and bone. well done Ilfracombe council for going ahead with siting this impressive piece; its Hirsts best yet .

  7. I love this sculpture! Amazing!

  8. Wow! That piece would be extremely welcome here in the San Francisco/Oakland Area of Northern California USA! We adore art such at this. And i am a metal sculpture myself and in my opinion Verity is unbelievably creative innovative and inspiring! People from all over the world will flock to see this, especially after these images are shared across the internet!

  9. The "X-ray" view may appear gory to some, but I don't see how a pregnant mother wielding a big sword is demeaning to women. I would think such a character would be badass as hell.

  10. Some people need to get grip or maybe its being overhyped to make a story- It is eccentric and unusual, yes but I think it is both tasteful, fascinating and yes- beautiful. Will it encourage pregnancies- don't be silly. Is it demeaning/ offensive/ outrageous etc- Not in the least. It is an opinion that is subjective but it is ultimately a tasteful museum piece that has been upscaled.


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