National Recording Project

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Figure Group

Summary

Type Panel , Coat of Arms

     The relief, which is really a slim sculpture set into a recess, has a background of black bricks. The female figure and child in the centre represent Education and the Family. She is flanked by two male figures representing Mining and Chainmaking, historically two of the most important industries in Dudley. All the figures, with the exception of the naked child, are bare chested, the men wearing trousers, the woman a draped skirt. The background illustrates the industial processes of mining (on the right) and chainmaking (on the left). The relief also depicts the Dudley coat of arms, complete with its lion's head crest. The image may be compared with images of the Madonna and Child flanked by Saints. The religious overtones are further enhanced by the way in which the relief's very angular monumental figures visually divide it into three sections in the manner of a triptych. Yet the pose of the central female figure is based on ancient Egyptian relief sculpture, with the woman's torso being seen from the front while her head and feet are shown in profile. Some details are quite naturalistic, but the links of the chain are heavily stylised.
     John Lewis (1914-1969) the Dudley Borough Architect designed the Churchill Shopping Precinct and commissioned several works from Copnall, who was a close friend. (1) The artist has revealed that the work was built on a metal armature, covered with close-mesh wire netting and shaped as nearly as possible to the figures in his full-size drawings. The forms were then covered with bandages of fine, butter-muslin before applying the fibre glass resin, which had been saturated with aluminium powder. The work was originally designed as a frieze or screen, dividing one area of the shopping centre from another, but owing to an undesirable vista of chimneypots, etc. being visible through the pierced sections of the frieze, the architect decided to brick it up behind, so the back view of the work was lost.
    

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Copnall, Edward Bainbridge Sculptor
Lewis, John Architect

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Relief Fibreglass 240cm high x 800cm wide

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
WMduDUjj020 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • Biological growth
Structural condition
  • Armatures exposed
  • Cracks, splits, breaks, holes
Vandalism
  • None
Road Bird Cage Walk
Precise location On wall where Bird Cage Road meets Fisher Street
A-Z ref 55 E3
OS ref SO948904
Date of design None
Year of unveiling 1963
Unveiling details 7-9 November 1963
Commissioned by John Lewis, architect of the Churchill Shopping Precinct
Duty of care Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
Listing status Not listed
At risk? No known risk

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