Posted: Mon Apr 10 2006
The South Bank Lion
Exhibit 4 The South Bank LionThis majestic, 13-tonne big cat made from the hard-wearing, artificial Coade stone began its life in 1837 high up on the riverfront parapet of the South Bank’s Red Lion Brewery. Designed by William Frederick Woodington, originally painted red and rumoured to not always have been in his current emasculated state, he was one of the last pieces to be made in the Coade Stone Factory, a site now occupied by County Hall. Having survived a fire and the Blitz, the lion was finally toppled from his perch in 1949 when the brewery was demolished to make way for the Royal Festival Hall. Given a new coat of red gloss, he guarded Waterloo Station until 1966, when station expansion plans prompted another move to his current position. Stripped back to the original stone he now stands outside the South Bank site where he was created.South Bank, foot of Westminster Bridge, near County Hall, SE1. Waterloo tube/rail or Westminster tube.
The Burghers of CalaisLocated in Victoria Tower Gardens, this version of Rodin’s famous monument was purchased by the British government in 1911 and celebrates the six wealthy town leaders of Calais who were prepared to sacrifice themselves to save the town during Edward III’s siege in 1347. Victoria Tower Gardens, Millbank, SW1. Westminster tube.
Jeremy BenthamNineteenth-century philosopher and law reformer Jeremy Bentham was a revolutionary thinker – he believed in universal suffrage and the decriminalisation of homosexuality at a time when few of his peers did. He also held radical views on death. Before his demise in 1832, he arranged for his own preserved bones to be dressed up and put on public display. The now famous wax-headed figure can still be seen, seated in his own wooden cupboard in UCL’s main college campus, where anecdotes abound about his presence at current College Council meetings and how his original head (now stored in the College vaults) was once nicked by naughty students and used for football practice. Part commemorative public sculpture and part ghoulish human relic, it’s still one of London’s oddest statues.University College London main building (south cloisters), Gower St, WC1. Goodge St or Euston Square tube or Euston tube/rail.
Knife Edge Two PieceWith 600-plus sculptures sited in public places around the world, Henry Moore is one of our most visible and best-known artists. The capital has at least 12 large-scale Moores permanently on view. Sites include Greenwich Park and the grounds of Hampstead Heath’s Kenwood House, but the large-scale bronze ‘Knife Edge Two Piece’ (1965) is in one of London’s most prominent locations, on the green outside Parliament, frequently used as a backdrop for TV interviews with politicians. Based on bone forms, it’s one of three versions of the sculpture (the other two are in New York and Vancouver). Moore was particularly pleased d dwith the chosen site and proud of the work. It’s one of the few sculptures that can hold its own against the imposing Houses of Parliament.
Abingdon St Gardens (Palace Green), near Parliament Square, SW1. Westminster tube.
The Blind Beggar and His DogThe Grade II-listed sculpture in Bethnal Green by Dame Elisabeth Frink is inspired by Henry de Montfort, who was wounded and left blind in battle in 1215, and after whom the Whitechapel pub, made notorious by the Krays, is named. Gardens of the Cranbrook Estate, Roman Rd, E2. Bethnal Green tube.
- Add your comment to this feature