Unveiled in front of the Town Church on Sunday, it was noted that the new Guernsey Arts Commission statue was a welcome addition to St Peter Port’s cultural offerings.
Islanders and tourists stopped to take it in, with most in agreement that sculptor Mark Cook had produced a good likeness of the Les Miserables author, who lived in Guernsey for 15 years.
Pauline and Paul Curtis were on day one of a six-day visit.
‘We were going to go to Hauteville House but sadly it’s closed,’ Mrs Curtis said.
‘I tried reading Les Miserables once, but found it quite lengthy at the time.
‘We didn’t have many books at home when I was a child but my dad had a copy which I thought I must read.’
Mr Curtis said: ‘It’s a good statue, it’s beautiful.’
Hailing from France, Alexandre Turudic now lives in Guernsey.
‘It is a good likeness,’ Mr Turudic said, adding that in sixth form he studied Victor Hugo’s novel dedicated to Guernsey and so learned about the island.
‘It’s really nice, actually, with the octopus it’s a bit reminiscent of Toilers of the Sea. It’s a really interesting story and is how I discovered Guernsey.’
Within the tale, the protagonist Gilliat battles an octopus in an attempt to win the affections of Deruchette, which inspired the octopus creeping up on Hugo sat on the bench.
Emily Ravenscroft would like to see more public art in Town, adding that the new addition looks good but the design could be bigger.
‘I was wondering with this one, the donkeys in the market and the Liberation one at the tourist centre, why they’re not bigger.
‘Maybe it’s something to do with materials or expense.
‘I really like the stuff on Mill Street for Guernsey Mind and on the side of the Market Square building.
‘I would say we need some more cool graffiti, more art, more exhibitions and more budget for creativity. It really adds something to Town for us and for tourists.’
Sizing was the one criticism from Karen Solway, who otherwise had many good things to say.
‘I love it, I absolutely love it,’ Miss Solway said. ‘It’s amazing and is amazing for Guernsey.
‘Victor Hugo is a massive part of our heritage and this is just incredible.
‘If I was being picky, I would say that he doesn’t need the platform shoes – us Guerns aren’t the tallest and it makes your legs dangle when you’re sitting on it. However, that absolutely doesn’t detract from the piece.’
A lover of Toilers of the Sea, she said the octopus brings the story alive. ‘So do his eyes – which are hollow.
‘When you compare it to the Lady Diana statue they just unveiled, his look real but hers look lifeless. I imagine they [the engravings in his book] were taken from his notebooks at Hauteville House.’
She hoped the statue would be well looked after as one stop on a Victor Hugo visitor trail.
‘It makes for a nice walking trail starting at Candie Gardens and working your way down to the Liberation Monument and the Market.’