The Shark House is one of Oxford’s favourite landmarks . Its mostly associated with the late  Bill Heine  and the artist who made it is often forgotten. John Buckley is not as celebrated as he should be .  Bill was an early inhabitant of Oxtopia . When I cast him away to my  desert  island  John’s sculpture Embrace was his chosen object.

When John created Embrace in 1988, they talked about taking it to Germany and putting it on the Berlin Wall but the wall came down. When I interviewed them I said,  ‘But there’s a divisive wall much closer – in Belfast’.  They liked the idea and explored it and I wrote  this poem about it. (See Below) The Mayor of Belfast was happy to have it in a park but not ON the wall so it is still in John’s studio.


Embrace  by Sylvia Vetta


Joined at the hip; you have tasted the apple.

whatever the tension, whatever the pain

Be bound -wrapped around -inseparable.


In tender embrace you struggle.

you ask why and how  you became

joined at the hip; you have tasted the apple.


From different communities you blame

the other, you fight, you cry, you soften,

you are bound – wrapped around -inseparable.


One from the church; the other the chapel.

A fateful kiss and God willing amen

joined at the hip; you have tasted the apple.


With distrust and hate you wrestle

as your bindings stiffen.

You are bound – wrapped around – inseparable.


Stand upon the wall and be a symbol.

Bask in sun, survive the rain and remain,

joined at the hip; you have tasted the apple.

Be bound – wrapped around – inseparable.