IMO commissions seafarers’ memorial for London HQ

 The International Maritime Organization has announced a short list of three leading sculptors to create a memorial to the world’s seafarers at the Organization’s riverside headquarters on the Albert Embankment in London. The sculpture will primarily serve as a memorial to all seafarers who have been lost at sea, but it will also be a reminder of the pivotal role seafaring plays in world trade and development. Some 95% of cargo is moved by sea.

An exhibition of models, drawings and other material by the short listed sculptors, Juan Munoz (Spain), Bill Woodrow (United Kingdom) and Michael Sandle (United Kingdom), will go on display at the IMO from 15 September 2000, with the final choice being announced by the IMO Secretary-General, Mr William A. O’Neil on World Maritime Day, 28 September 2000. The unveiling of the completed work is scheduled for World Maritime Day 2001.

Mr. O’Neil said it had been thought for some time that the IMO Headquarters, with its prominent position opposite the Houses of Parliament, was an excellent site for such a long overdue and unique monument. "In our discussions it was decided early on that the sculpture chosen should be figurative in nature and visually striking. The reason for this is that every delegate from each of the 158 Member States of IMO, and every visitor to the building, should be immediately aware of the sculpture’s significance," he said.

The memorial project is being financed from a Trust Fund established two years ago to mark IMO’s 50th anniversary. Other projects earmarked for the fund include the establishment of an additional teaching chair at the World Maritime University in Sweden and fellowships for the training of seafarers.

A key contributor to the fund is the International Transport Workers’ Federation whose General Secretary, David Cockroft, said: "We welcome this memorial and hope it will remind people of the hazards faced daily by the world’s seafarers".

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Short-listed sculptors

Juan Munoz (b. 1953), Spain

Barcelona based Juan Munoz has exhibited widely in Europe and America. He was recently the subject of a retrospective at the Pallacio Velasquez in Madrid, and in 1998 he showed a huge installation at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York.

One of his most recent commissions was for Sunderland, in northeast England. This consists of a group of 20 nearly life size bronze figures set on the sea front and appearing like the members of a court. One critic spoke of an "Alice in Wonderland feel" hanging over the whole elegant scene.

Michael Sandle (b. 1936), Britain

Michael Sandle lives in Germany and is Professor for sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste in Karlsruhe. He has executed many public sculptures including Memorial for the Victims of a Helicopter Disaster (1985) in Mannheim, St George and the Dragon (1988) in London and the Malta Siege Bell Memorial (1992) in Malta

In 1988 he was given a retrospective at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London. Sandy Nairn from Gallery described Sandle as: "deliberately something of an outsider; his work nonetheless reaches a wide audience and he is known for his impressive, dramatic sculptures".

Bill Woodrow (b. 1948), Britain

Bill Woodrow has exhibited widely since the late 1970s including major exhibitions in New York, Edinburgh, Cologne and London, the city in which he lives and works. More recently he was one of three artists chosen to create temporary sculptures for the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square and his work, Regardless of History, currently occupies the site.

Woodrow`s site-specific work reflects on the nature of the location as can be seen with his sculptures at the British Council headquarters in Bristol and in the lobby of the new British Library. In the last few years he has moved from the use of recycled materials to cast bronze; he has addressed various political and ecological issues in his sculptures.