Bust of Nelson Mandela, Royal Festival Hall, London
List Entry Summary
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
Name: Bust of Nelson Mandela, Royal Festival Hall, London
List entry Number: 1435261
Walkway between Hungerford Bridge and the south side of the Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX
The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: Greater London Authority
District Type: London Borough
Parish: Non Civil Parish
National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.
Date first listed: 28-Oct-2016
Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.
This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.
List entry Description
Summary of Building
A 'Bust of Nelson Mandela', executed 1982, re-cast and re-erected in 1988, by Ian Walters. The sculpture is affixed to a plinth which is located by the south side of the Royal Festival Hall.
Reasons for Designation
The 'Bust of Nelson Mandela', 1982, re-cast and re-erected in 1988, by Ian Walters is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Artistic interest: a work of figurative sculpture of high artistic quality, subtly detailed and bold and elegant in its composition;
* Historic interest: as a piece completed for public display, from an internationally known sculptor, representative of his aim to inspire others in his socialist beliefs and causes of high profile political figures and events;
* International significance: as a figurative piece which has an international historic association to the high profile former South African President Nelson Mandela, the work of the African National Congress and the struggles and aspirations of black South Africans against apartheid;
* Group value: with other listed buildings within the South Bank Conservation Area, including the Royal Festival Hall (NHLE: 1249756, Grade I) and other listed sculptures such as the Zemran sculpture (NHLE: 1431364, Grade II).
The period after 1945 saw a shift from commemorative sculpture and architectural enrichment to the idea of public sculpture making a primary aesthetic contribution to the public realm. Sculpture was commissioned for new housing, schools, universities and civic set pieces, with the counties of Hertfordshire, London and Leicestershire and the new towns leading the way in public patronage. Thus public sculpture could be an emblem of civic renewal and social progress. By the late C20, however, patronage was more diverse and included corporate commissions and Arts Council-funded community art. The ideology of enhancing the public realm through art continued, but with divergent means and motivation.
Visual languages ranged from the abstraction of Victor Pasmore and Philip King to the figurative approach of Elisabeth Frink and Peter Laszlo Peri, via those such as Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth who bridged the abstract/representational divide. The post-war decades are characterised by the exploitation of new - often industrial - materials and techniques, including new welding and casting techniques, plastics and concrete, while kinetic sculpture and 'ready mades' (using found objects) demonstrate an interest in composite forms.
The figurative 'Bust of Nelson Mandela' on the South Bank was originally executed in bronze resin in 1982 by the internationally known British sculptor Ian Walters (1930-2006). It was a personal commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the African National Congress (ANC) and a symbol of the struggle of black South Africans against South Africa's apartheid regime. Ian Walters, a sculptor committed to the idea that public sculpture must reflect political concerns, offered the colossal bust of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), who was in his 20th year of imprisonment at the time, to the ANC for use as a figurehead at public meetings in aid of the 'Free Nelson Mandela' campaign. In 1984 Walters offered the bust to the Greater London Council (GLC) for public display during their 'Year of Anti-Racism'. They purchased the bronze resin bust in September 1984 for insertion on a 1.54m inscribed concrete plinth, clad in South African ebony granite, to be displayed, initially on a temporary basis, by the Royal Festival Hall. The bust was erected and unveiled on 28 October 1985 by Oliver Tambo, the President of the ANC and a friend and former business partner of Nelson Mandela. A GLC Press Release in the London Metropolitan Archives dated 25 October 1985 by the then Mayor Ken Livingstone states: "Nelson Mandela is a symbol of hope and strength for oppressed people throughout the world. His message and life-long commitment to the struggle for freedom of the majority of South Africans is shared and supported by this council. This bust will be viewed by millions of people each year and I hope it will help foster that message" (LMA, GLC Press Release no. 977a).
Subsequent attacks, in 1985-6, of what was most likely politically-motivated vandalism led to a bronze replacement being commissioned from Walters by the South Bank Board. The replacement bust, which was cast at the Morris Singer foundry, with its re-clad and slightly higher plinth by Whiteheads, was installed at its original location on 26 August 1988. Following Nelson Mandela's release from prison on 11 February 1990, after 27 years, he was appointed Deputy President of the ANC. Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, with President FW de Klerk of South Africa, for their efforts to end apartheid and effect a peaceful transition to non-racial democracy in South Africa. In 1994, following the country's first fully democratic elections in 1994, Mandela was inaugurated as its President. All three of these events are commemorated on the inscribed plinth of the sculpture, with additions to the text in 1992 and 1994. The sculpture was removed during major refurbishment works at the Royal Festival Hall for protection and lowered back into its original position in 2007. This was also the year a full-size, 2.7m statue of Mandela by Walters was unveiled at Parliament Square in London. The sculptor's busts of Mandela's colleagues, Oliver Tambo and the anti-apartheid churchman Trevor Huddleston, are located at South Africa House, Trafalgar Sqaure, London. Ian Walters (1930-2006) was born in Solihull, Warwickshire and attended Yardley Grammar School, before graduating from Birmingham School of Art where he was influenced by the sculptor William Bloye (1890-1975). After National Service in the Royal Army Medical Corps (1952-54), he taught sculpture at Stourbridge College of Art and then from 1957 to 1981 at Guildford School of Art. He was a deeply committed socialist whose work was motivated by his belief in peace, justice and human rights. During his life he made portraits of more than 30 individuals including Harold Wilson, Barbara Castle, Fenner Brockway and Tony Benn. He was awarded the Jean Masson-Davidson Silver Medal in recognition of his lifetime achievements in May 2006, by the Society of Portrait Sculptors.
A 'Bust of Nelson Mandela', by sculptor Ian Walters, executed 1982, originally in bronze resin and unveiled on 28 October 1985 by Oliver Tambo, President of the African National Congress. Bronze replacement cast May-July 1988 by founder Morris Singer with plinth by Whiteheads of London Ltd. Re-erected August 1988.
MATERIALS: the figurative bust, a replacement of the original in resin, is cast in bronze. It is positioned on a plinth of 40mm thick South African ebony granite cladding over a reinforced concrete core.
DESCRIPTION: the bust, which stands on a paved area on the south side of the Royal Festival Hall by the Hungerford Bridge, comprises a 1.52m high figurative portrait of former South African President Nelson Mandela in a striking, thoughtful and dignified pose. It is based on photographs of him before and during his imprisonment and is set on a rectangular plinth measuring 2.11m in height by 1.02m in width and 0.97m in depth. The plinth stands on a square ebony granite clad concrete base which is set into paving. The front face of the plinth, which faces south, is inscribed:
"THE STRUGGLE IS MY LIFE"/ NELSON MANDELA/
GAOLED 5TH AUGUST 1962/ SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT/ 12TH JUNE 1964 FOR HIS ACTIONS/ AGAINST APARTHEID/
ERECTED BY THE GREATER LONDON COUNCIL/UNVEILED BY OLIVER TAMBO/ PRESIDENT OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS/ 28TH OCTOBER 1985/
A further inscription of three lines recording Mandela's release was added in 1992:
NELSON MANDELA WAS RELEASED/ AFTER 27 YEARS' IMPRISONMENT/ 11TH FEBRUARY 1990/
Six more lines were added following Mandela's inauguration as President in 1994:
AWARDED THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE/ 10TH DECEMBER 1993/
INAUGURATED PRESIDENT OF THE/ REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AND/ ITS GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY/ 10TH MAY 1994.
The bottom rear north face of the plinth is inscribed: SCULPTOR + IAN WALTERS.
Cavanagh, Terry, 2007, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool University Press. pp.74-78
National Grid Reference: TQ3080080180
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End of official listing