Damien Hirst’s Verity, is a 20-metre high bronze statue of a naked woman yielding a sword and staring out to sea in Ilfracombe, north Devon. Installed in October 2012 it is sited on the pier of the small harbour creating a Colossus for Ilfracombe. The sculpture is on a 20-year loan from the artist, who owns a restaurant in the coastal town and lives in the area. Standing at 20.25-metres high and weighing over 25-tonnes, Verity is described as a modern-day allegory for truth and justice. The figure’s stance is taken from Edgar Degas’s Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, c. 1881, referenced by Hirst in his earlier bronze, Virgin Mother, 2005. An anatomical cross-section of her head and body reveals the developing foetus in her stomach. The title is from Veritas, the Italian word for truth, whilst she holds the traditional symbols denoting Justice – a sword and scales – the scales are hidden and off balance behind her back whilst the sword is held confidently in her upstretched arm. Without the perfect equilibrium enacted by the scales, the sword becomes a dangerous instrument of power, rather than justice.
As part of a genre of female statuary it relates to Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North, 20-metres, and Marc Quinn’s marble sculpture of Alison Lapper Pregnant, 3,55-metres, displayed on the Fouth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2005. For comparison, approximate heights of the worlds largest figurative statues are: The Colossus of Rhodes (408 BC-226 BC): 30-metres + 12-metre pedestal; Spring Temple Buddha, Henan, China:108-metres + 25-metre pedestal + 20-metre throne); Statue of Liberty, New York: 46-metres + 47-metre pedestal; The Motherland Calls, Volgograd, Russia: 91-metres + plinth; Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro: 30.1-metres + 9.5-metre pedestal; Michelangelo, David, Florence, Italy: 5.17-metres + 2.5-metre plinth.
The design was initially made as a two feet tall clay maquette which was then scanned using a white-light scanner to make an electronic copy of the sculpture for casting.Verity was then made in over forty individual castings at Pangolin Editions foundry in Gloucestershire. The frame was fabricated in a single piece of stainless steel. The bronze parts were cast in pieces using sand moulds, which were then metalworked and reassembled around the steel frame. The sword and upper arm is a single piece of glass fibre reinforced polymer and the entire piece was tested in a windtunnel to ensure it could withstand the power of high winds and seas.
Main Image: Damien Hirst. Verity. Courtesy © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. Photographed by Steve Russell. All rights reserved, DACS 2012
Lower image: A suggested view of The Colossus of Rhodes