The Oscar Wilde Memorial Statue in Merrion Square Dublin
The Oscar Wilde Memorial Statue in Merrion Square, Dublin
The Oscar Wilde statue In Merrion Square, Dublin 2 shows Oscar reclining almost provocatively on a huge granite stone seemingly without a care in the world. The statue is positioned so that Oscar Wilde is looking at his old family home number 1 Merrion Square, on the north side of Merrion Square. On the other side of Merrion Square is Dail Eireann( the Irish parliament).
The Oscar Wilde Statue was commissioned by the Guinness Ireland group and the sculptor was Danny Osborne. The process of making the Oscar Wilde Statue took almost two and a half years from conception to finish. Geologists, quarry owners, glass workers and foundries from all over the world were consulted. Nothing was overlooked, Merlin Holland, Wilde’s grandson was the model used for the sculpture’s head.!
Dubliners have christened it the “fag on the Craig”
The sculptor Danny Osborne used complementary colour stones and also sought out stones with varying textures to give us a much more lifelike representation of Oscar Wilde than you would find in a conventional statue. Wilde’s jacket is green stone which is complemented by red stone cuffs. The sculpture includes two stone pillars which are covered in quotations from Oscar Wilde. Placed on top of the pillars are two sculptures, one of the sculptures is a bronze figure of a pregnant naked woman kneeling this represents Oscars wife Constance, while the other pillar has a bronze male torso. Perhaps the sculptor has posed a deliberate question for visitors to contemplate? Are these meant to symbolise Wilde’s ambiguous sexuality and aesthetic sensibilities?.
The two pillars which flank the Oscar Wilde Statue on both sides are used to set out his thoughts,opinions, witticisms on art and life for all to see and judge. These quotes were selected by a mixture of poets, public figures, artists, and scientists, who use Wilde’s own words to pay tribute to him. To the visitor it seems that the Etchings on the pillars are graffiti but they are not, they are the personal handwriting of figures from Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney to playwright John B. Keane to the current irish president Michael D Higgins – all paying homage to Oscar Wilde with his own words.
PILLAR OF ART:
“Pathos leaves the artist unmoved. But beauty, real beauty, can fill his eyes with tears”
DANNY OSBORNE, Sculptor.
“You have set yourself to music.”
TOM MacINTYRE, Poet and Playwright.
The world is made by the singer for the dreamer.
DOROTHY WALKER, Art Critic.
To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.
CHRISTY MOORE, Singer/Songwriter.
The true tragedy that dogs the steps of most artists is that they realise their ideal too absolutely.
CORMAC BOYDELL, Ceramic Sculptor.
I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.
RICHARD MURPHY, Poet.
I have nothing to declare except my genius.
CHRIS STILLMAN, Geologist.
Being natural is simply a pose.
ELIANE PEARCE, Model.
It seems to me we all look at nature too much and live with her too little.
BARRIE COOKE, Painter.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.
JIMMY McCARTHY, Singer/Songwriter.
Beauty has as many meanings as man has moods.
EAVAN BOLAND, Poet.
All art is at once surface and symbol.
PAUL DURCAN, Poet.
All art is quite useless.
BOBBY BALLAGH, Painter.
Lying, the telling of untrue things, is the proper aim of art.
PADDY McENTEE, Barrister.
The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
MICHAEL D. HIGGINS, Politician/Poet.( current president of Ireland)
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.
A man who allows himself to be convinced by an argument is a thoroughly unreasonable person.
GER SCULLY, Costume Designer.
No work of art ever puts forward views.
CHARLIE TYRELL, Painter.
There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
MARTIN GALE, Painter.
Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it but moulds it to its purpose.
MICHEAL O’SIADHAIL, Poet.
Conscience must be merged in instinct before we become fine.
MAURICE DESMOND, Painter.
Thought is not catching.
PAT SCOTT, Painter.
Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
GERALDINE OSBORNE, Doctor ( wife of sculpted Danny)
Poets you know are always ahead of science.
CAMILLE SOUTER, Painter.
PILLAR OF LIFE:
Who, being loved, is poor?
JOHN MONTAGUE, Poet.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
KIRK MAKEPEACE, Jade Miner.
Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.
MERLIN HOLLAND, Writer, grandson of Oscar Wilde
Experience is the name everyone gives to his mistakes.
JEAN KENNEDY-SMITH, Former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.
I can resist everything except temptation.
JOHN B. KEANE, Playwright.
The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.
TIM GOULDING, Painter.
A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
TORGEIR GARMO, Thulite Miner.
Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple and the simple thing is the right thing.
ERLING KAGGE, Explorer/Writer.
Those whom the gods love grow young.
RONNIE TALLON, Architect.
No gentleman looks out of the window.
DEREK MAHON, Poet.
…that little tent of blue which prisoners call the sky.
C.J. HAUGHEY, Politician,Taoiseach.
Punctuality is the thief of time.
GERRY WARDELL, Scientist.
Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.
SARAH WALKER, Painter.
Most people are other people.
JOHN O’LEARY, Poet.
Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.
DANNY OSBORNE, Sculptor.
The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.
ELENOR McEVOY, Singer/Songwriter.
Nothing looks so like innocence as an indiscretion.
DAVID WHITE, Painter.
I drink to keep body and soul apart.
SEAMUS HEANEY, Poet.
I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It’s never any use to oneself.
DAVIS COAKLEY, Doctor/Writer.
For he who lives more lives than one. More deaths than one must die.
THEO DORGAN, Poet.
A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
DAVID NORRIS, Senator/Scholar.
…my duty is a thing I never do on principle.
DAISY RICHARDSON, Painter.
There is no sin except stupidity.
BRIAN FRIEL, Playwright.
The statue works on many levels and to many it is the perfect conduit to show Wildes powerful image and influence. Your eye is drawn immediately to the colourful and highly polished figure of Oscar Wilde. Oscars provocative posture makes you wonder and then your eye takes in the naked woman and the male torso statues and it seems your suspicions are confirmed. The statue captures the essential Oscar, almost magnetically it draws your attention and causes discussion exactly like Wilde did himself more than 100 years ago now, Oscar would be so pleased! In Oscars own words: ‘Who, being loved, is poor?’
The Oscar Wilde statue required remedial work in 2009 as the head had almost fallen off due to a combination of wear and tear and weather erosion. The sculptor had originally used porcelain for the head but a more durable material was needed. It was decided to use jade in the replacement head as it is much harder material and as such more suited to the Irish weather. The sculptor discusses the process in an interview with Deirdre Maloney in the video below. The sculptors assistant Deborah Wilson has some interesting pictures on her website which show the process, click on monuments and scroll down to the bottom and click on Oscar Wilde to get to the pictures.
If you are visiting Dublin to see the Oscar Wilde statue please bear in mind that the park closing times vary from between 9:30pm in midsummer and 4:30pm in midwinter.
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