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Damien Hirst's statue Verity erected in Ilfracombe

image captionVerity is due to be lifted in place by crane on the pier at Ilfracombe

A statue of a pregnant woman by the artist Damien Hirst has been lowered into place in the north Devon town of Ilfracombe.

The 65ft (20m) statue, called Verity, has been given to the seaside town by Hirst, on a 20-year loan.

The bronze-clad, sword-wielding "modern allegory of truth and justice" was erected by crane on the pier.

Critics have called it "outrageous and grotesque" while others see her as "beautiful and unique".

Councillor Mike Edmunds, who is responsible for strategic planning in Ilfracombe, said it would attract visitors.

"I think there is a tremendous feeling of optimism, especially from traders," he said.

"Something like Verity is going to make a great difference to the economy of Ilfracombe because an enormous number of people will come to see the statue.

"There is still controversy over the design, people either like it or not, but people can make their own interpretation of the statue."

'Opinion divided'

He said objectors would probably come round, as they had done with the town's Landmark Theatre, initially criticised as resembling a Madonna-style pointed bra.

"Now it's very much a part of the community," he said.

Verity fan Charmaine Lovett said: "The benefits are being seen already this week. There are shops open down on the pier which normally at this time of year would be closed.

"We have had people from all round coming in."

Before North Devon Council passed the planning application this summer, it had received 100 letters of objection and 177 letters of support of Verity.

Councillor Paul Crabb said: "Opinion is divided, but no-one can fail to be moved by it. It's awe inspiring."

Hirst, who already has a restaurant in the seaside resort, has been unavailable for comment.

More on this story

  • Will Damien Hirst's bronze statue Verity regenerate Ilfracombe?