Livingstone & The Lion – Statue by Gareth Knowles

Stephen Summers sent me some photos he took at David Livingstone Centre in September 2015. Shared here, I thought I would tell the history of the Lion Statue, as I have read online in a few places some incorrect details.

In the field, not far through the gates to the left within the David Livingstone Centre grounds is a large, and wonderful statue of David Livingstone being attacked by a Lion. This was based on a real incident, where Livingstone had been attacked by the beast, where thankfully assistance came from a rifle to his aid, by members of his party. On 16 February 1844 Livingstone was working on the ditches of the watercourse when some natives were screaming to him to help them kill a lion that had just dragged off some sheep. As Livingstone put it later: ‘I very imprudently ventured across the valley in order to encourage them to destroy him.’ It was not Livingstone’s only mistake; he went with only one gun and with no armed native at his side. He fired both barrels at the lion but only wounded him. As he vainly tried to reload, the lion leapt on him and, catching him by the arm, shook him ‘as a terrier dog does a rat’. Livingstone’s upper arm was splintered at once; the lion’s teeth made a series of gashes like ‘gun-shot wounds’. Livingstone was incapacitated for a good many years due this event, his arm being trapped between the lion’s jaws, before it was fought off.

Ray Harryhausen, the late oscar winning special effects artist was the person with the idea, for he wanted to bring back of all of the worlds heroes. Ray had been responsible for special effects in films like Clash of the Titans, and Jason and the Argonauts, perfecting stop-go motion. However, he didn’t construct it. It was creator Gareth Knowles, who has that credit, something which is acknowledged by Knowles own signature on the statue. (pictured by Stephen)

Gareth Knowles, an irishman was born in 1965 but met his hero Ray Harryhausen in 1992 and it would take 12 years before the vision of the Livingstone Statue was realised. Ray designed the statue out of beeswax, which is what creator Knowles had to refer to. Gareth worked on the bronze statue for 2 years, on and off and the statue was finally unveiled on 7th April 2004 at David Livingstone Centre, commissioned by the National Trust for Scotland. Both Ray and Gareth attended and a small ceremony was held. (pictured)

The statue is much admired, just as much as the World Fountain is. Ray had a strong connection to this project, for his wife just happened to be the great, granddaughter of David Livingstone! This short video explains the story of the Statue, in Ray’s own words and features a nice video of the opening ceremony too.

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