Papers related to Michael Sandle's 'Malta Siege Memorial'

Scope and Content

The archive charts the four-year process of the making of Sandle's memorial to commemorate the Siege of Malta during the Second World War, which was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1992. It is situated on St Michael's Bastion in the Grand Harbour amongst the military fortifications at Valetta in Malta. The architectural monument consists of a Neo-classical columned cupola with a bell and a bronze figure on a ceremonial catafalque which is a symbolic representation of all war dead. There is an extensive set of papers which contain correspondence with Sandle about the commission and its fabrication and includes letters from Sir Nicholas Serota, Sir Hugh Casson, The Admiral of the Fleet Lord Levin and Lord Palumbo amongst many others. There is a set of minutes and papers of the George Cross Island Memorial Siege Bell Trust which was responsible for the funding. Further material comprises technical papers, press cuttings, details of costings, and statements by the artists about the work. There are a large number of photographs showing the development of the memorial through models, the fabrication of the bell and cupola, the site, drawings for the scheme and the completed memorial. There are also numerous diagrams, architectural plans, and photomontages of the proposed scheme.

Administrative / Biographical History

Michael Sandle was born on the 18 May 1936. He studied at Douglas School of Art and Technology, Isle of Man from 1951 to 1954 and the Slade School of Fine Art, London from 1956 to 1959. In his early work he emphasised craftsmanship and the search for symbols, rejecting the formalism increasingly common in sculpture of the period. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s he worked on a small range of individual works in which he explored abstract and figurative idioms.Following his appointment as Professor of Sculpture at Pforzheim, Germany in 1973, and at Karlsruhe, Germany in 1980, Sandle’s work became more monumental, partly in response to a series of significant commemorative commissions. His work voices criticisms of what Sandle describes as “the heroic decadence” of capitalism, in particular its appetite for global conflict. He has also attacked the media for packaging and sanitising the destructiveness of war. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1994.He has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions in Britain and internationally including the 5th Paris Biennale, 4th and 6th Documenta and Sao Paulo Biennale.

Access Information

Available to all registered researchers. The Archive is open by appointment only.

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Please consult HMI Archivist for further information.

Archivist's Note

Archive Hub description created by Janette Martin. Some biographical information was obtained from the Royal Academy website.

Related Material

The HMI Archive holds a portrait photograph of Michael Sandle during his residency at the London studio of Kenneth Armitage in February 2006. The photograph shows Sandle working on a bronze relief, part of his 'Allegory and Refiguration' exhibition at Ludlow Castle, Shropshire, September to November 2007.[ref.2006.25/28]. The HMI Archive also holds a reference written by Michael Sandle for Keir Smith, (1950-2007), dated May 1998. Also, a letter from Keir Smith to Michael Sandle, thanking him for the reference. Accompanied by exhibition catalogue, 'Michael Sandle: A Celebration', (2012) [ref. 2013.173]

"Belgrano - A Medal for Dishonour", 1986 is in the Leeds City Art Gallery collection.