The Guardian reports that people flocked to Ilfracombe yesterdayto see a new Damien Hist statue called Verity. No sheep this time but a 20m-high statue of a naked woman yielding a sword and staring out to sea.
"Impressive," said James Silvesto, who had picked up his nine-year-old son Charlie from the local primary school and whizzed him down to the harbour on his moped. "She's a magnet. She's got a personality that draws you in." Charlie was not so sure. "A bit rude, a bit weird," was his verdict.
Engineer Melvyn Robinson said he found it "grotesque". "It's not my cup of tea, I prefer my art a bit more conventional," he said. "It's typical Damien Hirst, a bit Hannibal Lecter-ish. He can't help himself, can he?"
Boatman Paul Barbeary was also unconvinced. "I just think she's in completely the wrong place. What has she got to do with Ilfracombe? A mermaid would be better."
Pensioner Eve Martinson, who was holidaying in Cornwall but had decided to take a spin to north Devon to have a look at Verity. "She's a bit, well, naked for me," said Martinson. "I don't like her nipples very much, a bit too pointy. And those bits and pieces of her inside. You have no choice but to look."
But shopkeepers were delighted at the attention the resort was getting because of Verity. The ice-cream parlours and fish and chips shops were doing good business. Hirst's own restaurant (he also has a home nearby) was, unsurprisingly, full. "I think the statue is brilliant," said Felicity Cowley, a consultant at the Driftwood art gallery, which had a few Hirsts on the walls. "A midweek day in October is not usually very busy. We've had loads of people in. Whether you like it or not, it's a phenomenon, an attraction."
And most of those who made the pilgrimage to Verity on Wednesday were positive. Tim Brownings, a local tour guide, can see the statue from his front room. "I was a bit worried she'd wreck my view of the sea," he said. "I thinks she enhances it actually. But for me the best thing is that she is getting people talking about art."
People like harbour master Rob Lawson, who was happy to wax lyrical about the merits of Verity: "One half of her is calm, beautiful; the other half is provocative – the human as an animal."
He is delighted the statue, on loan to the town for 20 years, has created a buzz. And if nothing else she will make it easy for visiting yacht captains to find Ilfracombe. "Some people say they find it difficult to see the harbour entrance from out to sea. They won't be able to miss it now."
Frankly I think it's a piece of crap but then again I have a very low opinion of Damien Hirst's work. Virtually none of it has any merit. I will leave Danny Kaye to give the final verdict on his work