Damien Hirst's 'Verity' arrives in Devon

The statue is to be placed on the harbour front in Ilfracombe Photo: ITV News

Some call it the Angel of the West, others have dubbed it the Belly of the South.

But, whether they like it or loathe it, the people of Ilfracombe are now the custodians of this giant Damien Hirst sculpture – and they’ll be looking at it for the next two decades.

The 25-ton bronze statue of a heavily pregnant woman holding a sword, arrived in the Devon seaside resort on a flatbed trailer.

Hundreds of residents came out to catch their first glimpse of the work, which will take more than a week to assemble.

And she'd hardly been lifted from the back of the low-loader before the first verdict was cast.

Lorretta Williams said: "I think it's grotesque. I would not want my small child to see the right side of that statue."

Damien Hirst made his name with calves cut in half, and Verity is part statue, part anatomy lesson. On one side the woman’s skin is peeled back, revealing her skull, muscles and foetus. Ilfracombe's expectant mums thought it a little odd.

Alex Martin told us: "I think it's nice, but a bit strange. Very strange how you can see the inside and the baby."

Another pregnant local, Lydia Berry, said: "It is amazing. Cut in half? That's a bit strange. But it's good to see the human body and stuff like that. I do like Damien Hirst so it is good so see something like that for the town really."

Another Ilfracombe resident who is happy to see the Verity's arrival is Verity Smith. She said: "I was really really shocked when I found out it was going to be called Verity, because I'm Verity and I live in Ilfracome as well. I think it's brilliant for the town."

Dozens of residents wrote to the council to object, with one saying it would "encourage teenage pregnancies".

Another said it was ‘demeaning to women’ while a third claimed it was "eccentricity posturing as art".

Resident Jenny Cookson was rather more blunt: "It is a monstrosity," she said.

But councillors say the statue will boost tourism and improve the town’s image.

If you had to take 25 tons of bronze and make it into the ugliest thing you possibly could you'd have a job to do worse than this. But having said that, he's a world renowned artist and to have a piece of this stature in Ilfracombe has got to be a tremendous coup. People will have their fun and there will be comments made for certain, but our tagline is curious coastal charm and something like this can only add to that tagline."

– Councillor Paul Crabb, North Devon Council