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Damien Hirst's Verity statue sparks teen pregnancy rebuttal

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 03, 2012

  • Damien Hirst's controversial Verity in Ilfracombe

  • Damien Hirst's controversial Verity in Ilfracombe Picture: Mike Southon

  • Angry: Mayor, Lynda Courtnadge

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Claims that Devon's new "angel" of the North Devon coast will be a beacon for teenage pregnancy have been refuted by a town mayor.

Artist Damien Hirst's Verity – a 65ft bronze statue representing truth and justice – was unveiled at Ilfracombe harbour last month.

Critics of the giant statue of a naked pregnant woman brandishing a sword have suggested that the town has one of the highest pregnancy rates for teenagers in the country.

Mayor Lynda Courtnadge was so angered by the attacks that she dug out official figures to disprove the "offensive" comments.

The most recent data provided by NHS Devon, for 2008 to 2010, shows an under-18 conception rate of 2.4% amongst girls aged 15 to 17, she said.

This was lower than the Devon rate at 3.1% and both the South West and England rates, at 3.2% and 3.8% respectively.

She added: "I have recently heard several people using a misguided argument, which has often been quoted by some who are anti-Verity.

"This is the claim that Ilfracombe has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country.

"Young people in our town make a very important contribution to our community, and to suggest that they are more promiscuous than any other community, and to use this in public debate, is inaccurate and offensive."

The 25-ton bronze artwork has divided residents since it arrived on a 20-year long loan from the artist, who has a restaurant in the town.

On one side of the body, the woman's skin is peeled back, revealing her skull, muscles and foetus – bringing accusations that the work is "grotesque", "obscene and disgusting".

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  • DaveButterton  |  December 04 2012, 2:06PM

    Countrylover, Verity may have scales coming out of her posteria (sic), better that than the words emitting from yours...

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  • oxostu  |  December 04 2012, 10:51AM

    This story highlights one of life's real challenges... how to respond rationally to the levels of irrationality present in this debate....? Linking Verity to teenage pregnancy is just laughably pathetic. There must be some really weak-minded people out there if that is actually being put forwards as serious argument. Sure, if you don't like it, you don't like it. Fair enough. But at least try to keep a grasp on reality...

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  • oxostu  |  December 04 2012, 10:51AM

    This story highlights one of life's real challenges... how to respond rationally to the levels of irrationality present in this debate....? Linking Verity to teenage pregnancy is just laughably pathetic. There must be some really weak-minded people out there if that is actually being put forwards as serious argument. Sure, if you don't like it, you don't like it. Fair enough. But at least try to keep a grasp on reality...

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  • Countrylover  |  December 03 2012, 5:14PM

    Although this obscene lump of metal is on loan, no one has answered the question as to what happens after 20years, that I contacted at the council. From this I assume council tax payers will get a huge bill from Hirst. From what I have heard this, what looks like porn as it has scales coming out or going into its posteria, was in a warehouse for months. As planning was to me seemingly rushed through by planners and councillors and has not been denied I assume this is true. I would think D Hirst was glad to get rid of this bit of junk, and to think the council is thinking of more dotted around at council tax cost. It is still costing us a great deal as it had police guarding it when I had to go into Ilfracombe, plus it has to be cleaned. Why, when the councillors have let the town itself get so dirty. Instead of building what seems to be a replacement for Ilfracombe near the supermarket ie housing, businesses,school etc the money instead should be spent on and in ILfracombe. There are empty shops, houses, boarded up plots of land, hotels falling and fallen down, rubbish and dog mess in the streets. Tourist certainly wont want to walk all that way to see yet another un-needed housing developement. The excuse that it will bring in more business is not true, the only time tourists were there, Ive been told is when it was half term, when that is always the case.

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