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Bust of Nelson Mandela

7 Reviews
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Bust of Nelson Mandela

7 Reviews
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Royal Festival Hall, London England
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EmbankmentUnderground7 min
WaterlooUnderground5 min
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Malarchy wrote a review Dec. 2019
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo850 contributions540 helpful votes
The bust of Nelson Mandela is a politically and historically significant statue of the great South African's head stationed outside the Royal Festival Hall on the route towards the South Bank near the Golden Jubilee Bridges. It is a magnificent sculpt with an enscripted tribute and a reminder of a political era in both South Africa and London. The Mandela bust is unusually placed. It does not have any context around it. There does not appear to be any particular reason why this spot has been chosen nor is there anything else around which suggests this spot. It just appears for a passer-by and it seems most overlook it because it is so unexpected. The bust is the second version with the original having been destroyed in the mid 1980s not after its unveiling. This 1988 iteration has stood the test of time now 3 decades on. It is in immaculate condition. The bronze of the statue has held up remarkably well and the plinth is also in great order. The original features of the sculpt are all completely evident. This is an absolute homage. The design emphasises Mandela's force of conviction and his resolute will. It is not a happy image given the oppression he faced, it is a sculpt which conveys a man who is determined in the face of adversity. It does seem as though Mandela the man was probably not quite this character just a few years after the sculpt was on display but nevertheless it is a powerful and impactful piece of art. The wording on the plinth is about struggle. Mandela embodies that struggle as much as anyone. The broader message though is clearly political and speaks to the politics of the time. It is not just Mandela that the bust commemorates but also the anti-apartheid movement in London in the 1980s. Apartheid played out some of the great ideological battles of that decade and as much as anything, it was an act of defiance by the GLC at the time and the South Bank Commission more particularly to construct this bust. Incredible to remember those times and the anti-racism movement that flourished during that period. Times have of course changed and the unity of anti-racism among that part of the political spectrum has pretty much completely collapsed so it is fascinating to see this statue capture a moment in time for the political life of the UK. The Bust of Nelson Mandela captures an historic moment in the UK but more explicitly of course the life and times of one of the world's most iconic leaders. It is impressive to see such a powerful sculpt from Ian Walters. It is just a little odd to see it in this location with so little context and in time that could easily cause this work to become overlooked and eventually forgotten. Nevertheless, this is an impactful artwork and an important collective memory.
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Date of experience: December 2019
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Richard P wrote a review Dec. 2019
London, United Kingdom24 contributions7 helpful votes
The bust of Nelson Mandela now sits in a corridor from Waterloo station to the Festival Hall. He has been there since his days of incarceration on Robben Island and is a testament to the foresight of the GLC who installed the bust. I feel strongly he should be moved to a more prominent position probably closer to the river so that more people can appreciate both the bust and the memory of such an outstanding leader. The bust and the message "struggle is my life" should resonate with us all.
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Date of experience: December 2019
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Chris wrote a review Sep. 2019
St Albans, United Kingdom4,395 contributions775 helpful votes
I walked up the stairs as I was trying to find a toilet and noticed this wonderful bust of Nelson Mandela on the right at the top of the stairs. One can tell it’s a modern sculpture by the detailing and the letter writing on the base. Lovely find!
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Date of experience: September 2019
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StephenCross wrote a review Jul. 2019
Dublin, Ireland14,368 contributions1,050 helpful votes
Great bust of the great man and sentenced to life in prison in 1962. Freed in 1992 after 27 years! A truly great man.
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Date of experience: July 2019
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PHE22 wrote a review May 2019
London, United Kingdom3,969 contributions568 helpful votes
One of the better looking busts around London. it is large and a good likeness it also has a small engraved narrative.
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Date of experience: May 2019
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