Sesated with a Beatle

RE: SEAT sculptures

I have followed the recent stories about Freddie Gilroy, and the follow-up about the similar but life size sculpture of an elderly gentleman on a seat. And I hope that the proposal to have a “Jim will fix it” seat created in tribute to the late Sir Jimmy Savile comes to fruition.

However, the recent surge in seat art is not a new idea. On December 8 2000, the anniversary of the death of Beatle John Lennon, a life-size bronze casting of him sitting on a rather ornate bench was unveiled in a non-tourist area of New Havana, Cuba.

It was commissioned by Fidel Castro, who although banned the Beatles in the 1960’s because of “ideological diversionism”, believed that Lennon’s later composition “Imagine” was based on Communist philosophy. The wording on the mounting plinth reads: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I am not the only one.”

The sculpture is in a park on 8th and 17th Streets in the Vedado district of New Havana, close to a rather high and long wall which most Cubans said they did not know what is behind but looked uncomfortable when I suggested that Castro’s home was on the other side of it!

I was fortunate to find the sculpture while on a tour of Ernest Hemmingway’s estate and sites he used in his novels, on a holiday to Cuba a few days after international flights resumed following the tragedy of 9/11 2001.

The sculpture has an elderly guard because Lennon’s signature round-lens glasses were constantly being stolen (it is not just Scarborough that has its vandals) and he carries a spare pair to attach for people wanting to take photographs.

Bob Hird

Trinity Gardens