'Thought-provoking' new statue focused on refugee crisis is unveiled in Saffron Walden
PUBLISHED: 12:11 15 June 2018 | UPDATED: 12:11 15 June 2018
Saffron Photo 2018
A life-size sculpture of six children in poses echoing The Burghers of Calais by Auguste Rodin has been unveiled in Saffron Walden.
The Unaccompanied Children of Calais was unveiled on Friday (June 8) by the sculptor Ian Wolter and former refugee Lord Alf Dubs. The mayor of Saffron Walden. Councillor Paul Fairhust, was in attendance.
One of the figures holds a lifejacket in place of the city key held in Rodin’s original and the piece is designed to provoke debate about the inhumanity of the response to the children caught up in the current refugee crisis.
The Burghers of Calais, one edition of which is permanently situated outside the Houses of Parliament in London, was commissioned to memorialise a moment during the Hundred Years’ War in 1347 when Calais had been under siege by the English for more than a year.
King Edward III offered to spare the people of the city on condition that six of its burghers would surrender themselves.
Although they expected to be executed, the burghers’ lives were eventually spared by the intervention of the English queen.
Calais commissioned Rodin to create the sculpture in 1884 and the work was completed in 1889.
Mr Wolter said: “The Unaccompanied Children of Calais evokes a parallel narrative: the sacrifice being demanded of these young people for our “greater good” the numerous public and political voices calling for them to be used for political leverage, and the potential for humanity to yet hold sway.
“The sculpture has been cast in bronze like The Burghers of Calais and the life-sized child figures should be attractive for children to explore and play among, adding to the thought-provoking nature of the piece: anyone could become a refugee.”
Ian, a graduate in fine art from Cambridge School of Art, lives in Essex with his wife, the author Clare Mulley, and their three daughters. Les Stanley made the castings and assembled the bronze from Ian’s original sculpture.
The first edition has been unveiled by St Mary’s Church in Saffron Walden and further interest has been received and other permanent and temporary sites are being sought.