Providence or Bust: Lovecraft Statue to Be Sited in Author’s Hometown

A crowd-funding appeal to create a life-sized bronze bust of weird fiction writer HP Lovecraft, to be installed in the author’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, has hit its target after only two days.

The name of Lovecraft, who died in Providence in 1937 aged 46, has become synonymous with the cosmic horror presented in such tales as The Shadow over Innsmouth, the Colour Out Of Space and, perhaps most famously, The Call of Cthulhu.

Although still a hugely influential figure in the history of genre fiction, Lovecraft has been seen as more problematic in recent years because of his published opinions—especially in his poetry—on race during his lifetime.

But his contribution to the weird fiction landscape endures, and it is for this reason that sculptor Bryan Moore—whose film credits include Nightmare on Elm Street and Gods and Monsters—started the project on the Kickstarter site, which he says “is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the famous author’s literary legacy”. Moore adds: “Lovecraft’s cosmic imagination has influenced every region of pop culture including video games, comic books, music and film.”

Moore has for the past 11 years run Arkham Studios, which produces high-end collectibles with an occult flavour, earning him the sobruiquet “The Satanic Sculptor.” He describes himself as “an avid Lovecraft fan” and has adapted and filmed Lovecraft’s “Cool Air” as well as sculpting Lovecraftian characters including Abdul al Hazred, Brown Jenkin, C’thulhu, Herbert West: Re-Animator.

Launched on Wednesday May 1st, the Kickstarter project hit its US$30,000 target to fund the bronze bust within days. Now the sculpture will find a permanent home in the 250-year-old Providence Athenaeum Library, presented as “a gift of public work” during the Necronomicon convention, dedicated to Lovecraft’s ouevre, this coming August.

Aside from a short time living in New York during his ill-fated marriage, Lovecraft always haunted the Rhode Island town, and his gravestone there bears the legend, “I am Providence.”

The Providence Athenaeum had a special place in Lovecraft’s heart. He wrote in 1924 to fellow weird fictioneer Frank Belknap Long, “Providence, which spurn’d Eddie living, now reveres him dead, and treasures every memory connected with him. The hotel where he stopt, the churchyard where he wander’d, the house and garden where he courted his inamorata, the Athenaeum where he us’d to dream and ramble thro’ the corridors—all are still with us, and as by a miracle absolutely unchang’d even to the least detail.”

Moore was so confident of success that he had “already ordered the clay and started sculpting”. His Kickstarter pitch adds: “There are very tangible costs associated with this kind of work of public art, namely the costs of moulding the original sculpture at the bronze foundry, the lost wax casting, molten bronze casting, finishing the patina, securing the support pedestal for display and the memorial bronze plaque that will be affixed to the front of the display. Other costs include crating and shipping the very formidable pieces from point of origin to the Providence Athenaeum Library, not to mention the installation of the work.”

As with most Kickstarter projects, varying pledge amounts trigger different rewards for those who have funded the scheme, from a limited edition postcard for a pledge of $10 to a T-shirt for those who promise $50, all the way up to a $5,000 package which includes a life-sized polymer replica of the bust.

Lovecraft, of course, isn’t the only genre author to be honoured with a statuary project. There is currently a fundraising drive on to create a statue of Gary Gygax, the “father of role-playing” who co-created the seminal Dungeons & Dragons RPG who died in 2008, in his hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

And in Woking—the site of the Martian invasion in HG Wells’ War of the Worlds—there has been since 1998 a striking sculpture of one of the tripods which Wells envisaged laying waste to England in his novel published a century before.

But which other authors in science fiction, fantasy and horror do you think deserve lasting monuments to their greatness? And where should they be sited?

David Barnett is an author and journalist based in the north of England. His novel Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl, the first in a steampunk/alternate history/Victoriana series, is published in September 2013 by Tor Books. He does not have a statue in his honour. Yet.


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