The Man In The Iron Mask

maninmask-canterburyThis huge sculpture, with the name ‘Bulkhead’, was created in metal by Rick Kirby.  It first came to Canterbury as part of a sculpture festival called Blok.  The sculpture was so popular that Canterbury council bought it.  

At the time of my photograph, it stood outside Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre, until the theatre was demolished in 2009.  It has recently been returned to the new theatre in The Friars, but now stands by the river in the theatre’s newly-created outdoor seating area.  

The theatre takes its name from the fact that Christopher Marlowe, (1564 – 1593), the Elizabethan playwright, poet and translator, also known as Kit Marlowe , was born in the city of Canterbury.

The sculpture, of course, references  Greek Drama’s ‘Mask Of Tragedy’, this being pertinent to Marlowe’s great tragic dramas.  In subsequently thinking of the sculpture purely as a mask of iron, it then suggested to me Alexander Dumas'(1802 – 1870)  fictionalised story of ‘THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK’.   This is Dumas’ version of the story of  the unidentified prisoner who, in the 17th Century was arrested, made to wear an iron mask, and subsequently imprisoned for 34 years.   As a nod to Dumas, if not to Marlowe, I have taken the liberty of inserting a ‘man’ into the eye of the Bulkhead sculpture  (see below).