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Falklands unveil bronze bust dedicated to Baroness Margaret Thatcher

Saturday, January 10th 2015 - 07:27 UTC
Full article 123 comments
The bronze bust and stone plinth is placed in front of the Secretariat and on the edge of Thatcher Drive The bronze bust and stone plinth is placed in front of the Secretariat and on the edge of Thatcher Drive
Local artist Massam at first refused to accept the challenge but after he completed a small scale maquette, he was convinced Local artist Massam at first refused to accept the challenge but after he completed a small scale maquette, he was convinced
The work's reference was a picture from the local museum of Margaret Thatcher when she visited the Falklands in January 1983 The work's reference was a picture from the local museum of Margaret Thatcher when she visited the Falklands in January 1983

Falkland Islands residents will gather this Saturday afternoon next to the 1982 Liberation Monument for the unveiling and dedication of the Falkland Islands Government commissioned bronze bust of Baroness Margaret Thatcher.

 Sir Mark Thatcher, son of Margaret Thatcher has been specially invited to the ceremony which begins at 17:15 hours with a Memorial Service to the late Baroness at Stanley's Christ Church Cathedral.

This will be followed by the unveiling of the memorial statue and later a public reception in the Town Hall.

Created by sculptor and Falklands Museum and National Trust taxidermist Steve Massam, the bust took around two months and 50 kilos of clay to create, according to a report in the Penguin News.

However from first accepting the commission to the final patina being applied at the foundry, the bust took around 18 months.

Mr Massam, who says he is now very pleased with the final piece, admitted he was initially very nervous: “When I was first asked by Darren Christie I said ‘no way’,” commented the modest artist.

Mr Massam more normally sculpts wildlife, and includes a full size bronze King Penguin in his creations. He eventually agreed to produce a small scale (maquette) of the lady, saying if he was happy with it he would take the commission.

Of course things are never simple in the Falklands. Not only was he in the middle of assisting with the museum move, but also moving house. As such, in his new house with partner, Sylvia Allen, the first room that had to be cleared was his studio. With the Legislative Assembly and himself satisfied with the maquette, Mr Massam went on to order clay, “and much larger tools.”

Happily for the artist he discovered it easier to work on a larger than life piece than in small scale: “You have more leeway,” he said.

In terms of a reference for the work, he eventually settled on a photograph in the museum archives depicting the then Mrs Thatcher during a visit to the Falklands in 1983. This placed her in the correct period required by the commission. In the picture she wore a Union flag brooch on her lapel, a structured jacket, polka dot blouse, pearl earrings and two strings of pearls around her neck.

But the most difficult part was, “capturing her eyes,” said Mr Massam.

Having toiled to get her expression correct he eventually, “had to step away,” he laughed.

With a clay bust complete, normally the foundry would send workers to create a silicon mould, however, because Mr Massam had worked before with the Bronze Age sculpture casting foundry (Limehouse, London) they were happy to allow him to create the mould.

That done, he transported the mould to the UK where a wax replica was made for him to check and sign off. Then came the final mould before the bronze was poured. This mould is made of ceramic so it can be smashed once the bronze has set. Last of all comes the application of the patina. “I chose a basic black/brown patina that would withstand salt spray,” he explained, “and will hopefully stand the test of time.”

The 27 kilo, hollow, bronze bust was then brought back to the Falklands by DHL ready to be placed on the edge of Thatcher Drive in front of the Secretariat.

Making the bust particularly ‘Falklands’ it is weighted inside with an armature made of fencing standards.

Costing around £40,000, it will stand 8ft high on a stone plinth and bears a brass plaque with a quote from Baroness Thatcher on April 3, 1982: “They are few in number, but they have the right to live in peace, to choose their own way of life and determine their own allegiance.” (PN).-

Categories: Politics, Falkland Islands.

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  • Leiard

    “They are few in number, but they have the right to live in peace, to choose their own way of life and determine their own allegiance.”

    Jan 10th, 2015 - 07:52 am 0
  • toooldtodieyoung

    1 Leiard

    well said!!

    I can't wait to hear what the neighbours think of the bust.......... they will probably think its more evidence of English imperialism or something like that.............

    Jan 10th, 2015 - 09:36 am 0
  • RICO

    No doubt the a Islanders will toast her every year as they celebrate liberation day. Meanwhile Argentine will cry into their cups and curse her every year when they celebrate oppression day. Does anyone know of another nation that celebrates the start of a war rather than the end?

    Jan 10th, 2015 - 10:01 am 0
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