Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Preliminary study for Armed Forces Memorial to be installed in Westminster Abbey.

Meanwhile a work emerges from two years of revisions, changes of size, alterations of site, rewordings of text, and colour, switching of materials and reversals of method; all subject to debate within various committees of both church and Ministry of Defence. This not to mention my self-inflicted labour on battle sites of the past, digging up mud from, inter alia, Agincourt and the Somme and, most recently, at Princeton where a handy slice of the War of Independence was thoughtfully fought a few yards from Einstein Drive [you can't win them all].

The work in question is to be installed in Westminster Abbey, on the cloister wall, later this year. It is a War Memorial (sorry, Conflict Memorial, since we don't have wars any more) constructed of metal, earth and stone. The metal is welded copper and the border lettering is cut into the cloister wall itself. The earth is a mixture of the aforementioned mud of which blobby packages have been arriving from my daughter and, via a friend of a friend from Asia to augment my already large selection, now appropriately ranked in uniform storage jars.

Despite the long reversals and delays I am happy with the outcome especially since I was allowed to change all the wording from an initial committeespeak version. Most of all I am proud to have my work present within singing distance of the mysteriously intricate Cosmati pavement (a miracle seen from above) and the gravity-defying fan vaulting (a wonder seen from below).

The highlight of the committee stages was when I presented the preliminary designs as seen here to the memorial board at the Ministry of Defence to enter whose premises (though only armed with a watercolour drawing) I was podded, checked and scanned. After an extended and largely approving discussion a puzzled army officer of very high rank said "Well, I've been looking hard at this and feel... I'm no art expert mind you... that I ought to point out that the writing is a bit wobbly." It was as if he had expected letters to stand at attention when he inspected them.

1 comment:

Mike C. said...

"It was as if he had expected letters to stand at attention when he inspected them"...

Now, wouldn't that be something? An interactive monument where, say, a motion-detector spots the approach of a viewer and causes the slouchy, slope-shouldered letters to spring to attention (kerching!), only to relax when the viewer moves away. It might be construed as disrespectful, I suppose...