Heaney and Hadzi

The sculpture titled Agapetime stands on the plaza at the Lower Locks complex behind the main building of Middlesex Community College. The title is a combination of Greek words meaning “love” and “honor.” Artist Dimitri Hadzi (1921 – 2006) created the bronze artwork for Paul and Niki Tsongas in the late 1980s. They commissioned him to do the work as a tribute to their parents.

Dimitri Hadzi and his sculpture Omphalos in Harvard Square were the subject of an article in the Boston Globe a few days ago—the broken sculpture must be removed and repaired. Hadzi was a great friend of poet Seamus Heaney, who died last week—the two of them were colleagues at Harvard University. When Agapetime was installed at the Lower Locks complex, the Hellenic Culture Society of Lowell sponsored an exhibition of other work by Hadzi at the Brush Gallery at Market Mills. I was asked to write an essay for the exhibit catalogue. When I went to interview Hadzi at his studio in Cambridge, I saw a couplet written by Seamus Heaney in the guest book, which I copied in my notebook:

When I have shed my skin and bone

Perhaps I’ll be a polished stone.

—Seamus Heaney  ©1988, Entry in the Hadzi studio guest book

In the interview, this is what Hadzi said about contemporary sculpture and other art forms:

     Hadzi offered these thoughts about the responsibility of the public artist: “I can’t always explain my work. I keep discovering things myself because a good part of what I’m doing is intuitive.

“I think the sculptor should carefully consider, without compromise, what he or she is creating for a public space, “ he said. “It shouldn’t upset people too much. It’s something they have to live with.

“You have to try to be sympathetic to the public. They are trying to understand something. … Of course, the other side of the coin is that people should make more of an effort to learn about contemporary art. After all, chamber music and poetry were very difficult for me. I have had to put a lot of time into it. Still, I do understand that contemporary art can be hard. Perhaps it is because there are so many baffling directions in sculpture right now.”


02-Duran-Photo agapetime

Photo by Alex Duran

One Response to Heaney and Hadzi

  1. kosta says:

    Nice! Nice! I’ve come across “Hadzi” several times recently. Earlier this week I looked over a book of Dimitri Hadzi sculptures for which Heaney wrote the introduction. I spoke with a marble person who commented on the Harvard Square sculpture and that her company had a large Hadzi sculpture that they are repairing. Do all of Hadzi’s sculptures fall apart. O.k., I’d guess not. For sure, I’ll be busy this week looking for the “Hadzi in Lowell” brochure of the Hellenic Culture Society exhibit and a nice video of the exhibit reception put together by Rick Harvey from UMass Lowell. Paul Marion leads the piece with poetry and, somewhere, Seamus Heaney must be flitting around with the Hadzis. Finally, I think that the Harvard Square piece would look good in Lowell – either on grounds at UMass Lowell, or entry site to the city. And someone like Chancellor Meehan could pull it off. The sculpture is probably worth much more than the several hundred thousand dollar estimate for repairs. Yes, if I were rich, it’d wind up in my back yard. :)