In London so I went to Parliament Square to see the new statue of Gandhi that was unveiled earlier this year. Unlike the one in Tavistock Square, this statue has a standing Gandhi looking across to the Houses of Parliament. The bronze sculpture stands nine feet tall. I was interested to see him here as he stood against the might of the British Empire. I suppose it is fitting that Churchill, across the square, is looking away from him; if they were facing each other the expressions on their faces might be misinterpreted.
Interestingly, the day I visited I found it difficult to get close. There was a group of protesters, closely watched by the police, and they had taken up position around the new Gandhi statue. This meant my photos were restricted to head and shoulder shots. I support the right to demonstrate, especially in light of the fact that I spent many hours on demos and protests in the 80s. In this case, however, I was confused by the focus of the protest. It was hard to see what the demonstration was about. Gandhi would have directed the protest to one discernible aim; clarity is highly important in protesting in my view.
I did not get to see the legs on this statue on this visit but I read that British sculptor Philip Jackson based the work on the news footage of Gandhi visiting London in 1931 to visit the King and Prime Minister, Ramsey MacDonald. His choice of clothes was, of course, designed to make a point!
It seems I am a fan of Philip Jackson’s work. His statue of Gandhi joins the Bomber Command Memorial and the Wallenberg Memorial as London sculptures of his that I admire.