The Quay in Ilfracombe
The Quay in Ilfracombe

Damien Hirst's Devon restaurant 'The Quay' to close prompting tourism concerns

Ilfracombe locals have accused the artist of 'abandoning' the seaside town

Rachel Hosie
Friday 28 September 2018 11:17
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Damien Hirst’s north Devon restaurant, The Quay, is set to close on October 7.

The reason behind the restaurant’s closure is reportedly that Hirst’s company, Science Ltd, is restructuring, which will free up more time for the artist to work in his studio.

The Quay, in Ilfracombe, is situated near one of Hirst’s most famous pieces of artwork, Verity.

The 20-metre bronze statue, which features a foetus growing inside the figure’s womb, is one of various artworks by Hirst in the area. The artist, who is thought to be worth more than £200m, loaned Verity to the town in 2012 for 20 years.

The works of art, together with the restaurant, provide a big tourist draw to the area.

This has led to some local residents expressing concern that Hirst, who is the world’s richest living artist, is “abandoning” the area.

Last year, Hirst closed his gallery in the town, Other Criteria, and backtracked on plans to develop an eco-town on the outskirts of Ilfracombe.

Indeed, Hirst owns three seafront properties next to The Quay in Ilfracombe however they are all empty, with covered-up shop windows, which some people have labeled “eye-sores.”

Nick Waters, landlord of the Hip and Pistol pub and restaurant, said he was angry after the artist “abandoned” the town.

“These shops are in the busiest part of the town, yet they’ve been shut for years,” he said. “I don’t understand how someone so rich and so famous can just leave them there doing nothing.

“There are so many businesses who would snap them up, properties on the quay are at a premium.”

However a spokesperson for Science Ltd has said: “Damien is making changes at his company and has made the difficult decision to close The Quay and sell or rent all the properties he owns on the seafront, finding the right people to take them on.”

Hirst owns a home five miles outside Ilfracombe in Combe Martin, and his spokesperson stressed that the artist isn’t cutting ties with the town: “Damien has a long history with Ilfracombe and loves the people and the area.”

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