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Philip Larkin statue unveiled in Hull
Phillip Larkin statue
The statue received backing from Maureen Lipman and Tom Courtenay

A statue of Philip Larkin has been unveiled to end the series of commemoration events marking the 25th anniversary of his death.

The dark green bronze statue, which portrays the poet in motion with a manuscript tucked under his arm and clutching a trilby hat whilst rushing for the train, stands seven feet tall on the concourse of the city's railway station.

It is based on the opening line of his poem The Whitsun Weddings in which he wrote 'I was late getting away'.

The statue was revealed at a ceremonial event led by Carole Collinson, the chair of the Larkin Society Statue Committee, with the Lord Mayor of Hull, Councillor David Gemmell, unveiling the sculpture.

"It's absolutely wonderful. You can see Larkin exactly as he used to look in life," said Mrs Collinson.

"It's important to honour him in the city of Hull; the city that he worked in for 30 years and chose to live in"

"I think it will be a tourist attraction as the Betjemen is in St Pancras. I hope that we see crowds of people standing here having their photographs taken by the side of him."

Sculpted by artist Martin Jennings, who also created the statue of Philip Larkin's friend John Betjemen for St Pancras station in London, spent almost a year working on the project.

"It's lovely to be doing something that is a tribute to a man I admire enormously. Larkin was a genius and a wonderful poet."

Jennings, who also gave a speech at the unveiling event, had never met the Philip Larkin. His image of the poet was based on numerous research including photographs and an episode of the BBC arts documentary, Monitor, shown in 1964 in which Betjemen interviews Larkin in Hull.

Artist Martin Jennings next to Phillip Larkin statue
Sculptor Martin Jennings won the commission to create the Larkin statue

"I hope it's a reasonable likeness of him," said Jennings.

"What I've wanted to introduce into it is a little bit of the hesitancy that you might expect of a man who wasn't habituated to precipitant motion."

"When you do actually see the finished thing it's quite a strange experience. It's the first time that it's become what you hoped it might be in your imagination."

Among the guests at the event were Hull West and Hessle MP and shadow chancellor Alan Johnson, who said it is important to celebrate the famous poet.

"I think the Larkin society has done so well to commission this statue and the fact that it is such a beautiful statue, beautifully placed between the Royal Station Hotel and the platforms just fills me with pride for the city."

More than £80,000 was raised for the statue from business, public and individual donations including Maureen Lipman and Tom Courtenay, who also helped with the project's fundraising.

Larkin held the post of librarian at the University of Hull and completed many of his prolific works in the city.




SEE ALSO
Larkin About: A poetic tribute
02 Dec 10 |  Arts & Culture
Remembering Larkin 25 years on
02 Dec 10 |  Entertainment & Arts
David Walliams on Philip Larkin
28 Nov 10 |  Entertainment & Arts
In pictures: Larkin Toads Trail
16 Jul 10 |  Arts & Culture

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