Former Archbishop Declares Yeats Statue to Be 'Definitely There'

Rain holds off (mostly) for the unveiling that wasn't an unveiling

Rowan Williams 'unveils' Enwrought Light. Picture: Mike Abbott

Torrential rain was pouring down on Chiswick just an hour before the unveiling of a statue honouring the work of WB Yeats this Tuesday (6 September). Fortunately, the skies cleared avoiding a soaking for the around 200 people who turned up to see the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams do the honours, although rain constantly threatened through the proceedings.

Rowan Williams was presented with a challenge in his job of unveiling as the statue is angular and wasn’t even covered before the event. He described his role as “waving my hand expansively to declare it to be definitively there.”

Enwrought Light, an abstract work by Conrad Shawcross RA is just a couple of hundred yards from the poet’s former home in Bedford Park. Following the unveiling there was haunting music from Irish Heritage musicians Robert Finegan and Tara Viscardi and the children of Belmont and Southfield Primary Schools Primary as well as pupils of Arts Educational read some of his poems.

The words of Yeats are engraved on the base of the statue. Picture: Mike Abbott

The recently appointed Irish Ambassador to the UK commented that it might cause some raised eyebrows in Dublin that he was standing on a street corner in the rain listening to poetry rather than reporting back on the first acts of a new Prime Minister.

The vicar of St Michael & All Angels told people that Yeats had been a parishioner at the Church although he was a never a regular. He had written of his amusement at a sign in the Church entrance saying ‘kneelers must be hung up.’

Conrad Shawcross explained the way the sculpture was made to reflect the seasons, the weather and the time of day, changing colour as the environment around it altered.

The rain resumed but luckily there was tea and cake being served for the attending dignitaries in the Buddhist Vihara across the road.

A new information board explains the statue. Picture: Mike Abbott

After an interval, the Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation’s poetry evening took place in the Church with more than 300 people hearing readings that illustrated the work of Yeats from in Sinéad Cusack, Ruth Negga, Ciarán Hinds and Jeremy Irons.

The statue is a contemporary piece of artwork inspired by Yeats’s poem 'He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' and comprises a vertical gold and silver fragmented structure designed to reflect light. A symbolic rather than figurative work was chosen after consulting locally in an attempt to show how he was inspired by Bedford Park’s ‘progressive spirit’.

You can read more about the Yeats link with Chiswick in this article by Cahal Dallat written for

Enwrought Light. Picture: Mike Abbott
Enwrought Light. Picture: Mike Abbott

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September 9, 2022