Hirst's pregnant statue for Devon dubbed 'belly of the South'

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A 20m statue of a pregnant woman by the artist Damien Hirst could become a new landmark in a historic seaside town in north Devon.

A planning application published by North Devon council suggests the proposed sculpture, named Verity, could have "significant impact" on tourism in Ilfracombe. Locals have already reportedly dubbed the design the "belly of the South".

Artists' impressions show the bronze statue standing at the tip of a Victorian pier in Ilfracombe's pretty harbour and holding aloft a sword in her left hand with scales in her right hand.

The sculpture will be placed on a bronze plinth of legal books and is envisioned as "a monumental modern allegory of Truth and Justice", the application said.

At 20.25 metres from the base of the plinth to the top of the sword, Verity would be slightly taller than Gateshead's Angel of the North, which stands at 20 metres.

North Devon councillors have been told they can have the Verity statue on loan for 20 years if they grant the necessary planning permission.

As well as designing the work, Mr Hirst also owns a restaurant in Ilfracombe.

The council documents state the applicant is an organisation called "for giving cic" - community interest company - which has made the application through planning agent Steve Clements.

Mr Clements said he was not sure how personally involved Mr Hirst was in the scheme but confirmed that the Verity statue would be the artist's own creation.

The plans state the statue will create a "focal point" at the pier and "highlight Ilfracombe's heritage - growing outwards from this harbour".

It goes on: "The impact of a statue visible from many positions in Ilfracombe should give significant impact to the tourist industry upon which most of the town relies."

Brian Greenslade, chair of Ilfracombe Regeneration Board, told the BBC it could 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," he added.

Mr Hirst was unavailable for comment.

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