'Verity' – Devon, England - Atlas Obscura

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An allegorical statue of a giant pregnant woman representing justice and truth. 


In the North Devon resort town of Ilfracombe stands an unusual sculpture, created by the often-controversial contemporary artist Damien Hirst. Standing 66.4 feet tall, Verity depicts a naked pregnant woman holding up a sword toward the sky and carrying the scales of justice.

On the other side her internal anatomy is fully exposed, from the intricate muscular system to the fetus in her womb. Half of her head is a grinning skull and the skins on her limbs are peeling off. As the name suggests, the statue is intended to be a modern allegory of truth and justice, and at its feet a pile of law books can be found. It was in part inspired by “Little Dancer of Fourteen Years” by Edgar Degas, especially by its artful posture.

Cast in stainless steel and bronze (except for the sword, which is made of fiberglass), Verity was once considered the tallest statue in the United Kingdom at the time of its installation in 2012, surpassing the Angel of the North by 10 inches. Its glory only lasted for a single year, however, as the 98-foot Kelpies sculptures were completed in Falkirk, Scotland in 2013.

Loaned to the town for 20 years, it has been reported that Hirst’s quasi-bizarre statue boosted tourism in the town drastically. Which isn’t much of a surprise, considering what an outstanding work of art it is.

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