Hirst plans Ilfracombe pregnant woman statue

image captionThe statue, as envisaged in the plans, would add "considerable interest" to Ilfracombe said English Heritage

A Devon seaside town could get a 65ft (20m) statue of a pregnant woman wielding a sword by Damien Hirst.

The artist is offering the statue, called Verity, to Ilfracombe in North Devon on a 20-year loan according to the planning application.

English Heritage said: "This sounds like an important and thought-provoking project that would add a considerable amount of interest to Ilfracombe."

Hirst, who has a restaurant in the town, was unavailable for comment.

The application says the bronze-clad statue carrying a sword and scales with a base of legal books is a "modern allegory of truth and justice".

'Huge potential'

It would be built on the pier in Ilfracombe harbour and would "highlight Ilfracombe's heritage" and "give significant impact to the tourist industry upon which most of the town relies".

Brian Greenslade, chair of Ilfracombe Regeneration Board, said the town was no longer a "run down Victorian seaside resort".

Since 2007 when the Landmark Theatre in the town was developed with a white, conical design and dubbed Madonna's Bra, the town had welcomed contemporary art.

In 2010 it launched an image rebranding under the title "curious coastal charm".

He said: "A significant piece of contemporary public art that reflects the context and history of the town is felt to have huge potential for the regeneration of the town.

"Its positioning should ideally be in a showcase location with visibility from within and around the town, and the location should seek to ensure maximum regeneration value for the town."

Sharon Furmston, owner of the Collingdale guest house which overlooks the harbour, said the town had benefited from Hirst's restaurant 11 The Quay, which had two small sculptures of a pregnant woman.

She said: "I think it's good news for the town, it's a thought provoking piece of sculpture and I can see it would attract a lot of visitors."

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