1956_9 Epstein’s TUC Memorial
Work on Sir Jacob Epstein's statue at Trades Union Congress, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London.
McFall’s diary records 11 days work between 7th and 17th August 1956 assisting Jacob Epstein.
It is known that Epstein had help bolstering the stone but, according to Dr. Evelyn Silber, this would have happened between February and April 1956. It is presumed therefore that this August work would have been carving since there is no lettering on the sculpture.
The work is a memorial to Trade Union victims of the two World Wars for the new TUC headquarters. A mournful evocation of loss, a lone woman supports the limp naked body of a dead soldier. It was carved from a 10 ton block of Roman stone and was originally backed by green Carrara marble running up to the roof; this decayed and has been replaced by green tiles as an economy measure.
“Congress House, headquarters of the TUC since 1958, was constructed as a memorial to the sacrifices made by trade unionists in two World Wars. The idea for the building came from a resolution at the 1944 Congress. In addition to commemorating trade unionists’ war efforts, the General Council saw the creation of the new headquarters as an opportunity to promote interest in the arts and architecture. A competition for a suitable design, which attracted 181 entries, was won by David Du R Aberdeen. The building is centred on a courtyard beneath which is a conference hall that seats 500. ... The fourth side of the building consists of the memorial wall with its imposing work by Sir Jacob Epstein, carved on the spot from a single ten-ton block of Roman stone. A plaster maquette* for the work is displayed in the Bevin Room. It differs from the final work in a number of important respects, most notably that the figure of the soldier carrying a wounded comrade has become a mother carrying her fallen son.” [source TUC]
The statue was unveiled and the building opened on 27th March 1958.
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