Winston Churchill’s Granddaughter on Art, Women, and Israel
On a recent visit to Israel, legendary sculptress Edwina Sandys, toured the country looking for an appropriate location for her next project, called Circle, a monumental sculpture which celebrates the advancement of women. It will be Sandys’ first sculpture to stand in Israel.
Sandy’s planned sculpture for Israel contains a larger commentary on the status of women worldwide. Her monumental sculpture will encompass a circle of upright stones, in black and white, cast in the shapes of women, and connected by a lintel across the top.
In an exclusive interview with Tazpit News Agency at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel, Sandys explains that Israel is one of the most suitable places in the world for such a sculpture. “Israel is at the forefront of women being treated equally, relative to other areas of the world.”
“There are shining examples of women advancing here, if you look at the army, politics—prime minister Golda Meir. The responsibilities that women have here are impressive. I look at Israel as a forward, progressive country which has done much in the advancement of women’s rights in all stations of life,” notes Sandys.
During her trip, Sandys met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and tells Tazpit that the Israel leaders were “very pleased with her project.”
“The Prime Minister knew a lot about my grandfather. He’s read all the books about Winston Churchill– I’ll have to find a book that he [Netanyahu] hasn’t yet read about him,” she adds jokingly.
“One particular sculpture that the Prime Minister liked of mine was my War and Peace sculpture which portrays a jet fighter plane with the shape of a dove cut out inside. It’s an allegorical piece that explores the concepts of strength and peace.”
Born in 1938, Edwina herself grew up in the post-World War II era. “My grandfather [Winston Churchill] was the first artist I knew,” she explains. “As a young girl, I used to watch grandfather paint and I liked watching him make his magic on the canvas.”
“But Grandad never thought of himself as an artist, as he was so busy doing other things,” she said.
Raised in London, Sandys has been creating art that has reached the wider public for the past 30 years, much of which explores the human state in family, society and world affairs. Her work can be seen in UN centers located in Vienna, Geneva, and New York as well as the Brooklyn Museum of Art and New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Her internationally acclaimed work encompasses a wide range of political and social themes. In 1989, Sandys used 32 feet of dismantled sections of the Berlin Wall to create a sculpture called Breakthrough, which is permanently sited at Westminister College in Fulton, Missouri, the site where Winston Churchill, her grandfather, gave his historic “Iron Curtain” speech. Forty-four years following her grandfather’s warning of the Cold War, Sandys conceived and created Breakthrough to symbolize the end of that era, which former Soviet Union President, Mikhail Gorbachev later viewed himself during his visit to the United States in 1992.
For Edwina, becoming an artist wasn’t something she initially dreamed of doing as a child. “I became a wife at a young age and then a mother. Later on, I realized I wanted to do something more than tend the house. I started writing, but then discovered that painting was easier than writing. I got into sculpture sometime later, which I found required a lot more thinking and organization.”
Today Sandys lives in Soho, New York with her husband. In addition to sculpting, she also enjoys painting and planting flowers. One of the highlights of the trip for Sandys was viewing the horticulture and visiting the Israeli parks.
“So much has changed here since I last visited in 1968. It’s been amazing to see how much Israel has developed as a country, to see so much growth and vegetation with so little water.” said Sandys.
Although Sandys’ work is often inspired by political and social themes, she says that much of it is also personal, reflecting her own journey and that of the world during her lifetime. “‘As an artist, I am still trying to fulfill my own potential,” she explains at age 74.