Despite some muted enthusiasm for the proposed sculpture of Jane Austen in The Close, the design contains some serious flaws. 

First, her self-presentation is anachronistic in relation to its time. 

Her body-hugging dress belongs to a much later age, and her alarming stare hardly matches the modest individual that we think we know. 

Anatomically too, the figure is peculiar: her neck has too many vertebrae and her head is too large for those slim shoulders. More seriously still, she is represented as if glaring at an intruder who interrupts her work, implying that this gives the viewing position required for the narrative moment to cohere. Yet this confinement of the viewer to a single location before the work fails to accord with the work’s three-dimensionality, its identity as a sculpture with many sides and angles of view. 

What will be her demeanour when approached from the side, from the back, or in the rain? Put differently, the artist has designed it – or the commissioner has conceived it – as a narrative painting of the most literal sort, a simulation of the real Jane at a specific, or possibly typical, moment of her real life. I fear the result will look like a crude hologram that just happens to be coloured bronze. 

I doubt that it will work as a commemorative sculpture at all. 

Brandon Taylor,
West End Terrace,

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