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Oscar Wilde Statue by Maggi Hambling

1037 of 1160 nominations


Oscar Wilde Statue by Maggi Hambling

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Oscar Wilde Statue by Maggi Hambling

Love it or hate it, it took years of campaigning to get a permanent tribute to Oscar Wilde erected in London, scene of his greatest triumphs. On November 30, 1998, the statue by Maggi Hambling was at last unveiled in Adelaide Street, near Trafalgar Square. It is called A Conversation with Oscar Wilde and depicts the head and shoulders of the Irish playwright carved in bronze, rising out of what looks like a granite coffin. The “conversation” comes about because the coffin is also a bench for you to sit on and share a moment with the famous wit amidst the hubbub of central London. As well as a moment, you might consider sharing a cigarette for, like the true flouter of convention he was, Oscar is defiantly smoking. You may need to lend him one, though, as the interactive element Hambling had not envisaged when she created the statue was the regularity with which the bronze cigarette would get stolen! Around the base of the monument is a line from his play Lady Windermere’s Fan: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”.

Image: Topfoto.co.uk


Your comments

It is the only sculpture in England of Oscar Wilde.

Bill Gleave

After leaving Ireland for England whilst still a teenager, Oscar never returned, losing his Irish accent throughout his life. Perhaps a more appropriate place would in fact be Paris, which always gave him refuge when he had to flee from the British authorities.

I looked up this statue online because of something that happened just this last weekend while my boyfriend and I visited London. While walking, we came upon this memorial, sat down, and also took a picture of the quote enscribed. While doing so, a man walking past asked with a disgusted tone in his voice, "Do you know what that is?"... I did not know how to respond; of course I know who Oscar Wilde was, but I had no idea why what we were doing provoked a comment like that. I began to wonder if it was in fact some sort of tomb (because of its shape) that we were disrespecting, but I thought surely his body was not there on a London sidewalk! Although I still don't know how we offended the passing man, I am glad to know that it is meant to be sat upon!

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My nomination is the garden shed.