Friday, 30 May 2014

Bearsden Cross War Memorial

I was out yesterday photographing the war memorial at Bearsden Cross for a future drawing project that I have in mind.  (Joan Eardley drew and painted in the same area when she was young.  There are some drawings that she did of New Kilpatrick Cemetery.)

This is something that I saw every day when I was growing up, and I loved it dearly. I didn't know until decades later that my own grandfather sculpted war memorials (which you can read about HERE).

The War Memorial stands at Bearsden Cross at the busy junction of the Drymen and Roman Roads (and if you want to photograph it, you have to take your life in your hands, as the best view is from the middle of the junction). 

It was unveiled on Saturday 14th May 1924, and features a bronze group by sculptor Alexander Proudfoot of two 9 foot figures which stand on a 15 foot pedestal of Portland Stone, from down in Dorset.  That's quite an imposing pile.

The group represents 'The Triumph of Sacrifice'. There was comprehensive coverage of the unveiling ceremony in The Glasgow Herald of 16th May 1924, Page 5. In a note to the newspaper, the sculptor Alexander Proudfoot wrote:
'The Bronze group shows a winged angelic figure supporting the figure of a stricken youth.  The figure of the Youth represents the sacrifice of the nation's youth and the winged figure symbolises the National Consciousness of the sacrifice and also the Victory.  The head of the winged figure turns towards the Youth expressing by the action the divine regard and preciousness of the sacrifice.' 

I knew nothing of these sentiments when I was little.  In fact, they all sound somewhat jingoistic.  I loved it because, although it was a memorial to war, for me it had a huge emotional sense of security and trust.  It was my statue, not anything to do with war.  Because who wouldn't want that sort of very tangible love and support and affirmation, and from an angel? 

In fact, looking at the statue for the first time close up through the telephoto lens of my camera, I can see that there is a little smile, almost of reassurance or contentment, on the face of the youth.

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