The Oscar Wilde Memorial (1997)
By Danny Osborne
Commissioned by the Guinness Ireland Group
I assume that that restoration work is underway as the two small bronze figures are missing from the two pillars which appear to be in better condition than they were the last time I paid a visit to the park.
Oscar Wilde’s (1854-1900) rich and dramatic portrayals of the human condition have made him one of Ireland’s most popular and loved writers. His short stories, plays and poems continue to inspire and entertain people the world over. This memorial fittingly captures Wilde’s dramatic and audacious personality. Commissioned by the Guinness Ireland Group, and created by Irish sculptor Danny Osborne, the memo- rial took almost two and a half years from conception to completion. Geologists, quarry owners, glass workers and foundries from all over the world were consulted. Osborne used complementary colour stones and also sought out stones with varying textures to give a much more lifelike representation of Wilde than in a conventional statue.
These stones and materials include bronze, glass, granite, jade, porcelain, quartz and thulite. As one can see Wilde’s green jacket of nephrite jade from Canada, is complimented by red cuffs made of thulite from Norway. The sculpture is accompanied by two stone pillars which are covered in quotations of Wilde’s writing. These quotes set out these thoughts, opinions and witticisms on art and life. The quotes were selected by a mixture of poets, public figures and artists who use Wilde’s own words to pay tribute to him. The etchings of the chosen quotes copy the personal handwriting of figures including Seamus Heaney, John B. Keane and President Michael D. Higgins. Placed on top of the pillars are two small bronze sculptures, one of a pregnant woman who represents Wilde’s wife Constance and the theme of life, staring accusingly across the path at her husband, while the other is a male torso representing Dionysus and the theme of art. With Wilde, reclining on his rocky perch, facing towards his childhood home at No. 1 Merrion Square.
Danny Osborne has worked as a very successful full time artist since 1971. He has travelled extensively, participated in expeditions to the Arctic, Andes and the Himalayas, and has documented his experiences through painting and sculpture. Osborne’s sculptures tend to be created using a variety of stones and porcelain like The Oscar Wilde Memorial.