X-ray imaging of The Leaning Woman sculpture to help assess damage
October 20, 2023
Fundraising for the restoration of Hammersmith’s Leaning Woman statue has reached its target.
The fundraising project to save the 1950s statue, created by sculptor Karl Vogel, aimed to raise £50,000. Today, its page on Spacehive shows it is now overfunded, with 116 contributors raising a total of £50,468.
In response, the organisers said: “ Brilliant news, thanks everyone!”
This successful initiative means that work to preserve the gravity-defying sculpture, which sits next to Peter’s Church on the Great West Road, can now go ahead.
Sculptor Karel Vogel arrived in Britain from Prague in 1938 after fleeing the Nazis shortly before the Second World War. His statue, of a half-nude classical Greek woman doing a sideways limbo movement, was commissioned by the old London County Council in 1958 to fill an area of leftover land.
It was one of around 50 artworks installed around housing estates, schools and public buildings, as part of the LCC’s Patronage of the Arts scheme. The idea was to be a calming influence on motorists using a stretch of road that was the first multiple carriageway in the UK, and to compensate Hammersmith residents for the intrusion of the road.
The Heritage of London Trust, which initiated the project and kicked off the crowdfunding effort with a grant of £10,000 describes the Leaning Woman as a semi-nude, idealised figure nearly twice life size, cast in concrete around a metal armature. Her arms rest lightly on an absent surface and her weight is cantilevered from the base.
Her floating appearance linked her surroundings 'in neo-classical calm with the swiftness of the fast modern world'. It was one of Vogel's final works and took a year to complete.
The trust says in recent decades the concrete has cracked and there are signs of rust where the armature is exposed. Past repairs in smooth cement were inappropriate to the work and have now failed.
The Leaning Woman sculpture beside the A4 in Hammersmith. Picture: Heritage of London Trust
The statue was put on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2017.
Restoration will include reversing and stabilising the corrosion of the iron armature, repairing all cracks and open seams and investigation of the best options to protect the concrete structure for the future, as well as improving its setting so it can be better understood and appreciated.
Other funding for the project included £20,000 from the Community Infrastructure Levy raised by Hammersmith & Fulham Council, £2,500 from local architectural practice Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and many other pledges from companies and individual supporters.
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