When I started thinking about how to design this memorial I realised that, in a way, there are two Agatha Christies. There is “Agatha Christie”, the global literary, film and TV, and theatrical phenomenon. And then there is Agatha Christie the individual who, notwithstanding her extraordinary talent, was quite a normal and conventional English lady. This memorial represents both.
What better to celebrate the best-selling novelist - about 3 billion copies sold - of all time than a giant book? (Unlike the other English language mega-sellers Shakespeare and The Bible, perhaps all those books have actually been read!) At the centre of this book, inside the pages, is the lady herself, absorbed in her powerful imagination.
The Book – an embossed leather-bound volume such as might be found in the library in one of her stories – is decorated with motifs of her work, embedded into the overall design, as are the clues in her mysteries. Mousetrap crests mark the amazing and continuing success of the world’s longest-running show. Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple, the agents of her intelligence, preside over two mysteries – one foreign and exotic, the other British and homely. Her stylish signature is both a logo, and a type of fingerprint. At top and bottom the decorative border is a celluloid film strip, marking her film and TV productions. There is a long shelf of her bestsellers, their titles in English and 30 foreign languages (plus braille) reminding us of her very international appeal.
At the heart of all this is, of course, Agatha Christie’s head. Making a posthumous portrait is always a challenge, particularly in sculpture. I had over 100 photos, a couple of brief cinefilm clips, and a recording of her voice. I read her excellent autobiography. It took me many months and six attempts to make a head that felt right. I was helped enormously in this by the advice of her grandson Mathew. At the end of the process I felt as if I had really known her personally, though she died when I was just five years old.
Making this memorial has been a great honour and a great joy. I hope it reminds all who see it of the amazing fact that one of the most prodigious, enduring, popular and successful cultural outputs of the twentieth century stems entirely from the industriousness, skill and imagination of one modest, camera-shy lady from Devon.