British Fiction Focus

Discworld Artist to Sculpt a Statue of Terry Pratchett

Following the finding of four new elements to be appended to the periodic table, a campaign was launched last month to name one “octarine” in honour of Sir Terry Pratchett, who passed away last March after a long battle with the “embuggerance” of Alzheimer’s. That the petition has attracted approximately 50,000 signatures since speaks to the incredible reach of the aforementioned author’s life and literary legacy. It’s as good as guaranteed to go ahead, and make no mistake: that’s great. But as a celebration of someone as down-to-earth as Terry Pratchett, some might say it’s rather… abstract.

Happily, last night brought news of an attempt to memorialise the great creator a little closer to home—to his home, near the English city of Salisbury—by way of “a life-sized statue of Terry […] cast in bronze” by Paul Kidby, the very artist who illustrated a number of the numerous Discworld novels.

“The sculpt I would like to create,” Kidby explained in the proposal presented to Salisbury City Council at a recent meeting, “would depict the author standing in a relaxed pose wearing his iconic hat and carrying a book under his arm. […] Terry would be wearing his leather jacket and open necked button up shirt, trousers and shoes. In the top pocket of his jacket are some pens. There is the possibility to add some Nac Mac Feegles (Scottish-style pixies from Pratchett’s writing) to the sculpture which would add an element of humour and surprise to the piece.” In addition, Kidby is keen to place the proposed memorial on a flat base as opposed to a raised plinth because it would enable “a sense of ownership to the fans who might visit.”

He gets it, then. Good.

Even gooder: When Kidby—alongside members of Pratchett’s management and Emily Brand, the Salisbury resident who kicked off this particular petition—presented his proposal in person to the Powers That Be yesterday evening, things went surprisingly swimmingly. “While we were prepared to speak at length in support of the project and the potential benefits to the area, the council members voted very quickly and almost unanimously […] to allow the project to proceed to the next stage,” Brand said.

The next stage may be a wee while away, I’m afraid. “It’s a long-term project,” Brand cautioned, “but the overwhelmingly positive messages we’ve received from around the world show how important recognising Sir Terry’s work is to the fans that adored his work.”

One of those fans, and indeed friends, is a fellow by the name of Neil Gaiman, who pushed the petition on on his Facebook page, saying: “He would have said something a bit sarcastic about it, and have been secretly very pleased. And then he would have discovered that you can hide something inside a statue, and confided in all his friends that in a few hundred years people would be in for a surprise…”

How’s that for a hint, huh?

In your wildest dreams, I wonder, what would you like your grandchildren’s great-great-grandchildren to find hidden inside a statue of Terry Pratchett, several hundred years hence?

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and Tor.com. He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.

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