Wax heart tribute to Havel takes shape from candles

Wax from the thousands of candles lit for former Czech president Václav Havel is being collected for a massive heart-shaped tribute

Chris Johnstone | 16.01.2012
Remains of memorial candles will be cast into a sculpture to honor Václav Havel

Two artists are preparing to create a giant more than two-meter high symbolic wax heart from the remnants of tens of thousands of candles lit in memory of former president Václav Havel.

Lukáš Gavlovský and Roman Švejda’s raw material is the tens of thousands of partially burnt candles that Czechs lit in homage to the iconic human rights campaigner and statesman following the announcement of his death on December 18. 

Havel often used a heart to symbolize his message that “truth and love should prevail over lies and hatred,” with a large neon heart adorning the president’s office at Prague Castle in the weeks before his final term of office ran out, at the start of 2003.

Symbols of hope

In an appeal for help on the social website Facebook, the two say that the remains of the candles represent “the collected hopes of people for a better society, of their prayers that it is possible to act according to you best conscience and not lose that hope that everything that is political (in its widest sense) is not dirty and clogged by an opaque layer of strange, specific interests.”  They add that their giant heart should also convey the message that if there is a will there is a way.

Theater location

Gavlovský and Švejda have begun collecting much of the raw wax material, in part from council rubbish dumps, and have appealed for help towards the end of the week for sorting the candle stubs before they start to “forge” the wax parts that will make up the giant heart this weekend. There should be around 10 layers of the wax model which will be in a “shell” format so that people can enter it. 

Once finished, the giant heart should eventually be placed on a square in the center of Prague near the city’s National Theater. 

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