Wednesday, July 9, 2008

National War Memorial, Ottawa

The National War Memorial in Ottawa, across Wellington Street from the Chateau Laurier, is a remarkable piece of public sculpture, with something over twenty full size figures marching as if through mud. The figures, who represent many different services, look grim rather than heroic, and reflect the privations of war in the trenches.

They include two women, including this charmingly snub-nosed nurse (?), the strap of her handbag falling over the back of her hand as she tramps uphill.

There is, no doubt, more than a little sentimentality in this immensely ambitious work -- I cannot think of anything else in bronze that is half as complex -- which was unveiled only a few months before the Second War. What would you expect? -- It was planned by an Englishman from Farnborough, and executed by his family after he died. A touch of village mawkishness, I guess. But with statuary, my view is put it up first, and think about it later. There is far too little in Canada -- except on this site.

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