The Twentieth Century Society

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Canada War Memorial, Green Park, London, Photo © Sarah J Duncan
Click to see full size Photo © Sarah J Duncan

War memorials

London: Canada Memorial

Architect: Pierre Granche, 1994
Location: Green Park, London

The Canadian memorial Foundation held a competition in 1992 to commemorate over 110,000 Canadians who gave their lives in the two World Wars. Out of 33 entries, It was won by Pierre Granche, an sculptor based in Quebec who began making sculptures in the 1970s, pioneering installation art in public spaces as opposed to galleries. Granche studied at the École de Beaux-Arts de Montreal and the Université de Vincennes in Paris and also taught in the art history department at Montreal for over twenty years. Money was raised in Canada with the assistance of Conrad Black, with further contributions from Great Britain. The Inscription on a compass set as a rose reads (in both English and French):

In two world wars/one million Canadians/ came to Britain/ and joined the fight for freedom/ From danger shared, our friendship prospers.

For Granche, the commission represented an opportunity to put Canada before a European audience and he approached its design with great care and concern – wanting to design a monument that was a fusion of installation art and architecture. Granche’s works consistently revolve around integration and interaction, working sculpture into the architecture or the architecture into the sculpture: the truncated pyramid creates the illusion of its being buried in the ground, and granite is pervasive. The monument is divided into two, a path encourages people to walk in close proximity to the work. As a fountain, the memorial welcomes interaction with the environment, whether leaves falling and washing over their bronze counterparts, or children playing. The sculpture is also an arrow to Halifax, Nova Scotia, reflecting the port from which soldiers and defence material embarked during the two world wars. The granite and bronze used for the work was transported from Canada, via Halifax.

Jon Wright

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