Charles Dickens statue for Portsmouth is a step closer to reality

SCULPTURES Martin Jennings' Dickens statue was chosen as the winner.    Picture: Sarah Standing (112918-8982)
SCULPTURES Martin Jennings' Dickens statue was chosen as the winner. Picture: Sarah Standing (112918-8982)

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A STATUE of Charles Dickens is now a step closer to being erected in Portsmouth after a winning design was picked.

By this time next year it is hoped a towering bronze statue of one of Portsmouth’s most famous sons will be on display in the city centre.

MISSED OUT Les Johnson with his three designs.    (112918-8956)

MISSED OUT Les Johnson with his three designs. (112918-8956)

The celebrated author was born in the city almost two centuries ago and the sculpture will serve as a tribute to his life and work.

The winning sculpture is the brainchild of Martin Jennings, whose design was selected by Charles Dickens Statue Fund members.

Mr Jennings’ works include the statue of author John Betjeman at St Pancras train station in London.

The artist, who is himself a fan of Dickens, said: ‘It’s thrilling, I didn’t expect it. It’s wonderful news. It’s exciting to be making a monument to the great man.

‘It’s very important to identify him with Portsmouth, where he was born. The next stage is to do an improved model and then pretty soon after we have to start work on the full-size clay version which goes to the foundry to be cast at the beginning of next year.’

The design he has created will be slightly larger than life size and will sit in Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square.

Mr Jennings added: ‘The base will be inscribed with something simple such as Charles Dickens’ name and the date of his birth in Portsmouth.

‘When you make pieces of sculpture they need to speak to the spaces around them.’

Mr Jennings added: ‘I wanted it to be a figure that you engaged with but I also wanted it to be a passionate figure’

Professor Tony Pointon from the Charles Dickens Statue Fund said: ‘The statue will be bigger than life size and everybody will see it in Portsmouth. Everybody is pleased with it. It was a terribly difficult decision given the quality of the work that we received but in the end we were unanimous that this was what we wanted.’

Sculptor Les Johnson, who designed three statues, was runner-up.

The Charles Dickens Statue Fund now needs to raise £100,000 to get the statue built.

Call Prof Pointon on (023) 9284 2288 to make a donation. Cheques should be made payable to the Charles Dickens Statue Fund.