As a lasting legacy of the Larkin25 commemorations and of the poet’s connections with the city of Hull, The Philip Larkin Society put forward a proposal for a statue of Larkin to be erected at Hull Paragon Interchange.
In November 2009 the short-list of sculptors competing to design the proposed statue was announced as: Graham Ibbeson, Martin Jennings and Jemma Pearson. On 13 February 2010 The Philip Larkin Society announced that Martin Jennings had been awarded the commission to create the Larkin statue.
This section of our website was created to keep Society members, and other visitors to our website, up to date with the progress of the Statue Appeal and the various stages of the statue’s creation, from its conception to its eventual unveiling on 2 December 2010, the 25th anniversary of Philip Larkin’s death.
The Philip Larkin Society would like to thank all the individuals and organisations whose enthusiasm and financial contributions helped to make the Philip Larkin Statue a reality.
THE LARKIN STATUE – A HISTORY
2009 DECEMBER 7
The Larkin statue has been commissioned on behalf of Larkin25 by the Philip Larkin Society to act as a lasting legacy honouring the poet’s connections with the city of Hull. The unveiling is planned for 2nd December 2010 – exactly 25 years after the poet’s death – concluding a six month series of commemorative events.
Hull’s Paragon Station was a spot favoured by Larkin as it was the departure point for many of his trips on his bicycle to the local countryside, as well as for the famous journey captured in ‘The Whitsun Weddings’. First TransPennine and Network Rail are supporting the project.
The three shortlisted sculptors, Jemma Pearson, Martin Jennings and Graham Ibbeson are creators of some of the nation’s most popular sculptures. Ibbeson installed the famous tribute to Eric Morecambe at Morecambe Bay; Pearson created the younger looking Darwin sculpture at Shrewsbury School and the two portraits of Elgar at Hereford and Broadheath to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth; Jennings recently installed the much-loved statue of Sir John Betjeman in St Pancras Station, London.
The chosen artist will be appointed by the Commissioning Group in consultation with the Chair of the Larkin Society Executive Committee, Professor Edwin Dawes, and announced in mid-February 2010. In the mean time, the Larkin Society is looking to raise £80,000 to help fund the statue and associated costs. A public appeal has been launched and donations can be made online.
2010 FEBRUARY 11
Today, at Hull’s Royal Hotel (formerly the Royal Station Hotel), Graham Ibbeson, Jemma Pearson and Martin Jennings each presented their concept for a Larkin statue. As can be seen from the photographs below, all three sculptors have represented Larkin moving. Two have Larkin with his bicycle, and one has him walking (towards the station platform).
It must be noted that the maquettes shown are concepts; the sculptors ideas about how they would like to present Larkin. The final statue — whoever is chosen to create it — will be more detailed and will bear a much closer resemblance facially to Larkin.
The Larkin Society’s statue committee will discuss the three presentations in the next few days before making their final recommendation to the main PLS committee.
Graham Ibbeson’s Larkin maquette
Jemma Pearson’s Larkin maquette
Martin Jennings’ Larkin maquette
2010 FEBRUARY 13
The PLS Commissioning Group for the Larkin statue met today and decided to award the commission to Martin Jennings. The decision — made after careful consideration of the evaluation forms completed by those present at the sculptors’ presentations on Thursday 11 February — was endorsed by Eddie Dawes (Chairman of the Larkin Society).
2010 JUNE 3
Here’s a short video (hosted on YouTube) of Martin Jennings’ visit to Hull Paragon on Friday 14 May.
2010 JULY 20
Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! The Larkin Society, in association with the sculptor Martin Jennings, is offering for general sale a limited edition of 20 bronze maquettes of Martin’s winning design for the Larkin Statue to be unveiled on Hull Paragon Station on 2nd December 2010, the exact 25th anniversary of the poet’s death.
The bronze maquette, about 15 inches high, costs £3,000 plus VAT. The number on each maquette purchased will depend on the date at which the purchaser’s funds are cleared. These maquettes are certain to become prized items, given the subject and the eminence of the sculptor. [The maquettes are no longer available for purchase through the Society.]
2010 SEPTEMBER 27
Here’s a short video of Martin Jennings talking about his Philip Larkin statue.
2010 SEPTEMBER 27
Larkin 25 Hits Statue Target after Auction Dinner with Maureen Lipman
The Society is pleased to announce, thanks to a Charity Auction Dinner held in Hull in early September, starring Maureen Lipman, that it has now raised sufficient money to pay for the Larkin Statue on Hull Paragon Interchange. The unveiling by the Lord Mayor of Hull will take place on 2nd December 2010, the exact 25th anniversary of the poet’s death. Until the fund-raising dinner, there was still a shortfall of £7,000 to cover the costs.
Carole Collinson, chair of the Statue Commissioning Group, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have reached our target for the erection of the statue and are deeply grateful to all the individuals, businesses, organisations and trusts that have been so generous with their time and money. To have hugely talented Hull celebrities such as Sir Tom Courtenay and Maureen Lipman give their services free to help us raise funds has been a great privilege and shows how important the connection is between Larkin and their city.”
Martin Jennings is the sculptor responsible for producing the statue; as a guest of honour at the dinner he said: “It has been a pleasure working with colleagues in Hull and I’m of course very pleased that the target has been reached so far in advance of the unveiling. It says a great deal about Larkin’s appeal and the generosity of people in this part of the world.”
The sculpture itself is now at the foundry being cast and is well on track to be installed on the station concourse in time for the unveiling. A 15-inch bronze maquette was on display at the dinner, one of a limited edition of 20.
The auction included lots donated by Ceruttis (Beverley), the Portland Hotel (Hull), the Deep, the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, the University of Hull, Hull Trains and First Transpennine. The most unusual item was a trio of Philip Larkin’s own ties, framed with accompanying autographs by Maureen Lipman, Sir Tom Courtenay and Sir Andrew Motion. Eddie Dawes, chairman of the Larkin Society, said: ‘The society acquired over 150 of Larkin’s ties when his effects were cleared from his Newland Park home. Offering just three of them for auction seemed to us a unique way of further supporting the statue appeal’.
Graham Chesters, Chair of the Larkin25 commemorations, said: “This is great news. The unveiling will be a fitting ceremonial climax to the six-month Larkin25 programme. The Larkin Society has done a brilliant job in fund-raising.”
2010 NOVEMBER 16
The Philip Larkin Statue – preparations
9 November: work begins on the site preparation for the Larkin Statue. The template for the slate ellipse is used to mark out the exact location and the precise area where tiles need to be removed from the concourse of Hull Paragon Interchange.
2010 DECEMBER 2
The Philip Larkin Statue – unveiling
Paragon Interchange, Hull – 12.00 noon
As the culmination of the Larkin25 commemorative season, the Lord Mayor of Hull today unveiled the new bronze statue of Philip Larkin, created by Martin Jennings.
Note: Apparently, the omission of punctuation is quite usual in carved text, and Martin Jennings made the deliberate artistic choice not to include Larkin’s comma. Which shows just how little I know. (Jim Orwin)