My Favourite Public Sculpture

I was delighted to be asked by the Public Statues and Sculpture Association to choose my favourite statue or sculpture in the public realm.

Robert Sivell (1888-1958), Phyllis Mary Bone RSA
Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries (c) Artist’s Estate

Phyllis Mary Bone

I immediately thought of the women sculptors who worked on the Scottish National War Memorial, which is within the Edinburgh Castle complex. Along with Hazel Armour (1894-1985) and Gertrude Alice Meredith Williams (1877-1934), Phyllis Mary Bone (1896-1972) was commissioned to work on this major project by its architect, Robert Lorimer (1864-1929).

Bone was born in Hornby, Lancashire. She studied at Edinburgh College of Art and under the animalier Edouard Navellier in Paris. In 1944, Bone was the first woman to be elected a full member of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture.

Phyllis Mary Bone (1896-1972), Camel, 1923-27, Scottish National War Memorial  (c) Artist's Estate / Photo Antonia Reeve
Phyllis Mary Bone (1896-1972), Camel, 1923-27, Scottish National War Memorial
(c) Artist’s Estate / Photo Antonia Reeve

A Camel at the Castle

Bone modelled all but one of the animals, inside and at the entrance, of the memorial. This meant that I was spoilt for choice! However, in the end I chose her Camel, as it is December and I think it has a touch of Christmas about it. It comes from a series of roundels in memory of ‘the humble beasts that served and died’ during World War One.

I would like to thank Antonia Reeve for permitting the use of her photograph of my favourite public sculpture for this purpose. It comes from a major series in its own right, when Reeve was commissioned to produce a comprehensive photographic archive of the memorial. Many of her resultant images can be seen in Duncan Macmillan’s book, Scotland’s Shrine: The Scottish National War Memorial.

If you’re interested in Phyllis Mary Bone, you might like my ‘Four of the First: Women Pioneers at the Royal Scottish Academy‘ blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *