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March Letter from Sculptor Ross Wilson about Belfast’s 1998 C. S. Lewis Statue

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 76, Spring 1998 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

25 March 1998

Dear James [O’Fee],

The sculpture concept came from a letter that C. S. Lewis wrote to a little girl called Anne Jenkins in 1961. She was upset that Aslan had died (in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe ) She stopped reading and wrote to C. S. Lewis. He replied explaining why Aslan had died and told her to read on, that Aslan came back to life. I discovered this letter while in conversation with Douglas Gresham one day in his study… I was impressed that [Lewis] took time to write back and didn’t write to her as a child but as an important person… I became inspired [by this] reply written over 37 years ago. I have traced and found Anne Jenkins, almost 50 years old now. She could not believe the events that are now beginning to unfold. She plans to attend the sculpture unveiling.. The letter will be reproduced in bronze on the back of the wardrobe, people will not only be able to look at the sculpture but read the words of Lewis himself explaining the need to find Aslan and the meaning behind the Chronicles of Narnia; Lewis still speaking after all these years, The image of the man walking towards the wardrobe is a stylized heroic image of C. S. Lewis representing the searcher: an almost ‘everyman’ setting out to find Aslan. I hope it will be seen as a pointer as well, to show that sometimes the greatest things can be found in the unlikeliest of places, a wardrobe, a world beyond a wardrobe. The finished figure will hold a chair and not a book. The chair may be used as a vehicle of transport; as the viewer is seated on the bronze chair they travel through Lewis via imagination to Narnia. A way of helping people to re-view things… I hope this helps.

Best Ross Wilson.

P.S. This is precisely what Christianity is about. “This world is a great sculptor’s shop, We are the statues and there is a rumour going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.” —C. S. Lewis