The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings



American born sculptor Mitzi Solomon Cunliffe , 1918 -2006 deserves to be better know.   She designed the gold mask BAFTA trophy, so I was reminded of her this week, but she also designed architectural sculpture. 

I admire her most for developing a technique for mass-producing abstract designs in relief in concrete, as architectural decoration, which she described as “sculpture by the yard”.   There was an excellent example of this on the lecture theatre attached to Wearmouth Hall at the University of Sunderland, which we hoped to save.  However we’ve just learnt that not only has the building been demolished, but sadly no interest could be raised in salvaging the blocks and using them elsewhere.   

What a pity—and how short sighted.  Cunliffe’s first large scale commission was two pieces for the Festival of Britaion  Festival of Britain in 1951.  At least her relief panel on Heaton Park Pumpling Station, 1955 (which depicts the water being brought from Haweswater to Manchester) is protected by listing. 

Read more about her in the obituary by our trustee Elain Harwood (from The Independent). Elain notes: “ such was Cunliffe’s attention to every detail of design that her original [BAFTA trophy] included a revolving support to allow the mask to be easily turned.




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