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Sculpture of Stanley Wells 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 Sir Stanley Wells, a noted Shakespeare scholar.


Wyatt: The portrait of Stanley Wells—I wanted to bring a tribute to his scholarship, his generosity, his kindness, and an amazing contribution that by myself I could not have endeavoured, but with Stanley it was a dream. My desire was, of course, to describe forms of likeness, but it was also and mainly about the inner Stanley—meaning the character, the moral certitude about rights and wrongs, his great and unparalleled knowledge about Shakespeare. It is an abstraction as much as it is a likeness and a study of inner character and interiority. It has a unique reference to the garden—it seems organically to have roots and come out of the ground.

Wells: Greg telephoned me when I was director of the Shakespeare Institute here. I remember taking the call in my office. He was looking for a location in which he might place some of his sculptures and, indeed, I think for some inspiration about what sort of sculptures they might be. At that time I was director of the Shakespeare Institute, which has a building on the other side of town, but I was also chairman of this organisation, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. And I said that the Trust had much better facilities for exhibiting sculptures than the Institute did, in our instance the fact that we have beautiful gardens in the Trust, including the New Place Gardens, which is where eventually it was decided to place these sculptures.

Wyatt: Stanley and I met, we went into the garden and I was speaking about the atmospherics and the beauty of the topiary and the flowers and this absolutely confirmed to me that this could really be a beautiful project. 

Wells: We started off with a single sculpture, the one based on The Tempest, and the then-director of the Trust and I helped to select quotations from the plays that would be illustrated, and these are the quotations which are now on the sculptures themselves.

Edmondson: It’s a great reminder of how site-specific Stratford-upon-Avon was to Shakespeare himself and how, whatever it was about it, it was important enough to him to fuel his imagination. And to think about New Place as a writer’s house and a place where probably a lot of his reading took place, his thinking about the next plays, he travelled to and from London to spend time with his family before going back to the Globe theatre and other theatres or on tour; this idea that his creativity is somehow rooted in Stratford, as well as finding fullest expression in the theatre world in London. There is no other sculpture trail like this in the world because of its site-specific nature and the fact that it’s paying homage to Shakespeare in his hometown.

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