Battersea Sculptor's Mandela Statue Unveiled
Morris Singer Art Founders were the proud producers of the life and a half (sized) statue of Nelson Mandela. The work was unveiled in Parliament Square in August 2007.
Since completing the work, the Battersea sculptor Ian Walters has sadly passed away. It is a fitting tribute to a great man and sculptor. This is perhaps his most important work.
Guests at the unveiling included Lord Attenborough, London Mayor Ken Livingstone and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
The installation of the 9ft bronze statue of Nelson Mandela by Ian Walters brought to a close the long-running dispute between Westminster Council and London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who wanted the statue to be in Trafalgar Square.
Originally mooted by Donald Woods, the late South African newspaperman, and then championed by Lord Attenborough, the actor turned director, it has taken seven years to find a place for the statue.
Its creator, the British sculptor Ian Walters, did not live to see it being unveiled. He died last year. This will be his final work and it is a fitting tribute to a very great sculptor and man - this is perhaps his most important work.
Walters, who died of liver cancer last year at the age of 75 after dedicating his life to depicting important left-wing figures, never got to see his most famous work completed and in place.
He created the sculpture by first travelling to South Africa, where Mandela sat for him for nine hours. From that process Walters made a clay portrait of the former president, which was then taken back to his Battersea High Street studio and transformed into a 9ft work of art.
After his death, Walters' widow Yolande organised the final casting into bronze plus the style of the marble plinth. She also continued the campaign to site the sculpture in a prominent central London location.
The statue had been commissioned following the creation of an earlier portrait bust of Mandela, which Walters completed in 1982 which is sited in the Royal Festival Hall.
Walters was born in the West Midlands, but moved to Battersea in the 1970s, where he was an active member of the Wandsworth Community Arts project, Battersea CND and the Battersea Power Station Community Group.
He won a number of prestigious awards, including the Millenium Prize for his sculpture of the pacifist clergyman Lord Soper.
In 1999 Tony Blair unveiled Walters' statue of Harold Wilson in Huddersfield, the former Prime Minister's home town.
The sculptor’s busts of Mandela's ANC comrade Oliver Tambo plus the anti-apartheid churchman Trevor Huddleston can both be seen at South Africa House.
This story comes courtesy of Andrew Westbrook, a British freelance journalist who has immigrated to Australia. Pictures courtesy of Brian Barnes, a friend of Ian Walters.