Wednesday 15 January 2014

St Pancras Station N1

British Rail, one of the most ruthless of the corporate vandals that destroyed so much great architecture in the latter half of the 20th century, tried to push through plans to demolish St Pancras station on the sly but an insider was so outraged he leaked the proposals to the poet and architectural critic John Betjeman. Betjeman had failed in his campaign to save the great arch at Euston station just up the road, but now public anger was stoked up and this time the forces of barbarism were thwarted. In 2007 a statue commemorating him was unveiled in the brilliantly restored station.
The figure, by Martin Jennings, looks upwards in wonder at the soaring arch, the widest in the world at the time. His coat swings behind as his gaze moves.
Portraying movement in a statue is a difficult trick to pull off, but Jennings has managed to capture a moment without making it look as if Betjeman was frozen in mid-air by the White Queen. And he has caught the Poet Lauriate's famous unconcern with matters sartorial brilliantly. Note that one of his shoes is tied with string.

1 comment:

Hels said...

I wasn't certain that sculpture in the stunning Victorian railway stations would work until I saw Sir Nicholas Winton. Now it is clear that John Betjeman also looks super.

Of course these men deserve to be there as a memorial to their own heroic contributions. But also to show that massive, industrial-scale architecture can take small, more personal art works.