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Sculpture of Hamlet by Greg Wyatt

Dr Paul Edmondson and Professor Sir Stanley Wells discuss sculptures of Shakespeare's plays with the sculptor, Greg Wyatt. This sculpture depicts Hamlet.


Wyatt: The question of the play in the first two words of Hamlet:

Wyatt & Wells: ‘Who’s there?’

Wyatt: And there’s the sense that the ghost has no body and no bones and no skin, so I realized that where this sculpture occupies on the sculpture trail that people would be glancing from a distance of 400-500 feet away and asking that question: ‘Who is there?’ Hence, there is sort of an apparition of a suggestion of features, but that is all to represent the ghost.

Wells: And the sword is among the most naturalistic features in your sculpture isn’t it? And

Wyatt: It is, it is.

Wells: And people actually want to hold them and want to take them out?

Wyatt: These are the only non-bronze elements because I tried to get a lot of detail into the weaponry, and stainless steel is the material, actually, of swords. You don’t ever think of a sword in bronze.

Wells: Yes, of course, Hamlet is seeking revenge and the sword is the instrument of revenge.

Edmondson: ‘There’s special providence in the fall of a sparrow’, says Hamlet to Horatio just before going to this final duel with Laertes, as it were knowing the end will come, quoting St. Matthew’s gospel, so that sense of accepting his fate.

Wyatt: It’s a cracked skull; it’s a portion.

Edmondson: The skull of the jester which has just been dug up in the graveyard at the beginning of Act V, and which becomes his meditation on mortality.

Wyatt: And there’s sort of wormy forms that come and go into the ghost.

Edmondson: That ultimate symbol of mortality that we’re all food for worms. So ‘What a piece of work is a man!’ is presented in the middle of the sculpture, as though we’re invited to think about the whole of mankind while looking at the sculpture, which is one of the reasons why Hamlet has become so famous as a narrative about all of this.

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