Lectures are normally in the Play House: 10.45 for morning members: 13.30 for afternoon members.

Completed January 2020

Damnation Memoriae: Punishing Statues

By Tom Flynn

Legless, headless, bodyless and handless were some of the images of statues mentioned in Dr. Tom Flynn’s wide ranging lecture. It covered statues sculpted in Classical times through to Madame Tussaud’s and modern day sculptors such as Liane Lang.

After showing us an image of a sculpture which, in interacting with a living human being, seemed to nurture humans and an enormous 2008 bronze sculpture in Woking depicting a woman shopping, with a child, Tom’s lecture explored sculptures and politics and how society seems to punish statues for the crimes of the figures they represent.

Madame Tussaud’s started with seven revolutionaries’ heads on sticks! Monochrome statues made of brass or marble became popular and during times of recent unrest they have been defaced or demolished as was Saddam Hussein’s gigantic statue in Iraq which was pulled down during the Iraq war. Most totalitarian state statues are destroyed but some statues can be reinvented and we were shown photographs by Lian Lang who reassembled mannequin figurines on existing large statues which had been moved to Budapest Park. Tom showed us one of a giant boot crushing a synthetic mannequin in this park.

Political figures sometimes commissioned statues of themselves such as the last Shah of Iran whose pair of wellington boots is all that remains of a giant statue of him after the 1979 revolution.

Statues are not only vandalised in times of unrest as was shown by one in New Zealand which the Maoris took exception to and so the head was constantly destroyed! The fate of public statues can symbolise stability and Tom argued that, as the U.K. is stable, its statues are not attacked. However, during the 2000 anti capitalist riots a statue by Ivor R. Jones of Churchill was given a Mohican hair cut and this was then copied in paint by Banksy and then also made into a silver statue. Tom felt this was an example of society working with statues to add weight to a political protest.