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Edwina Sandys

 (born 1938)
Edwina Sandys is active/lives in New York, Florida / England.  Edwina Sandys is known for social commentary sculpture, painting, lithographs.

Edwina Sandys

Biography from the Archives of askART

Following is description of an exhibition in Naples, Florida, from the Naples Daily News, March 6, 2008.

"My Life So Far: Edwina Sandys, 69, Artist
As told to Chad Gillis

"I don't live all my life thinking I'm Winston Churchill's granddaughter".

She's a renowned sculptor, artist, writer and mother of two. Edwina Sandys (pronounced "sands") is also the granddaughter of one of the most important political figures in modern history: Sir Winston Churchill. Sandys, 69, was born in 1938 and grew up in the post-World War II era, often watching her grandfather paint and work on the family farm, where he tended horses, pigs and, for a few days, a lion.

Her parents were Duncan and Diana Sandys. Her father was from a prominent political family and was a British politician for most of his adult life. Diana Sandys was Churchill's daughter. Both sides of her family were famous and influential, and her first husband was also a politician.

Sandys flirted with politics, but made a name for herself in the world of art and literature.

She won the 1997 United Nations Society of Writers & Artists Award for Excellence for a series of marble sculptures she created for United Nation locations in New York, Geneva, Vienna and the United States Embassy in Dublin, Ireland. She considers a sculpture titled Christa to be her most influential work. It portrays a woman crucified on a cross, suggesting a female Jesus Christ. The controversial piece was on display at the New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine during Easter in 1984.

She's lived much of her life in the shadow of Churchill, which she admits is both a blessing and a bit of a curse. She's proud to be part of such an important family, but the connection, she adds, can sometimes be trying. Press releases written for her shows typically include a tidbit about Churchill, and people tend to ask first about him and then, move on to her art. Sandys is happy to answer a few questions about Churchill, but she'd rather you ask about her work.

Her sculptures play with the line between literal representation and alternative reality. The paintings cull the simple but potent imagery of late Matisse with a nod, here and there, to the kind of playful surreality of Magritte. Compared to her grandfather's solidly representational paintings, Sandys art is otherworldly, often monolithic in scale.

She now spends the summer months with her husband of 22 years, Richard Kaplin, at their New York home. They winter in Florida, on the east coast near West Palm Beach. A collection of Sandys' art and sculpture is being shown this month at IAG Gallery in Naples.

I was always drawing and sketching as a kid, but I never thought about being an artist when I was young.

I grew up in London during the war. I always lived in London as a child and went to boarding school in England. And then, basically, I got married and had two children (Mark and Hugo Dixon). And then I thought I might go into politics. I became a town councilor and I thought I might stand for Parliament. But my husband at the time (Pierce Dixon) was already doing it. So I helped him with his campaign. Then I wrote a novel because I decided to do something other than be a wife and a mother.

While I was doing that I was also doing some painting. And I thought that was even more enjoyable. I got divorced from my husband and became a single mother in the early 1970s. That's when I really started painting. I had some shows in London.

I did figures like caricatures and then I got into sculpture — modeling in clay — which was then cast in bronze.

One of the pieces I've done since then is called The Marriage Bed.  There will be a small version of it a the Naples show. The original is a full-sized bed, and old-fashioned metal bed that is divided with nails and big red roses. It's based on the ideas that marriage is a bed of nails and roses. Somebody asked me if my husband minded me portraying marriage that way. I said, "No. We're still married."

People see a lot in that work. At first you look and see the beautiful roses. Then you notice the bed. Then you notice the nails. It think people really identify with that piece because they've either experienced a wonderful love or a rotten one, or something in between.

Overall, I want my work to have an immediate, instant impact. You look at it first because it catches your eye. And you want to look at it again. Then you realize it's something different than what you originally thought. And when you leave, like after seeing a great movie, there's a lingering feeling, something that makes you think beyond the initial experience.

I don't live all my life thinking I'm Winston Churchill's granddaughter.

I've got one-quarter of his genes, although we have other good genes in the family. It's impossible to live up to him, but people are pleased when they find out that I'm his granddaughter. As an artist, it's good in a way. But it can be a problem. You're just a celebrity artist. Having someone like that in your family, you have a yardstick.

I'm ambitious and I want my work to be enjoyed and inspiring to people. I would like to think he (Churchill) would like it, too. I used to do little drawings for him as a kid, but he never saw my larger works in my adult life.

Among other things, he was a wonderful painter with a fabulous sense of color. One of my first memories of him was of him painting. He was at home after the war and we were around him then, instead of him writing speeches. Watching him was incredible. He's a bold painter, not wishy-washy.

He did have pigs. He had a farm and cows and some special black swans. He even got a lion once. Of course, we couldn't keep it. So we had to go visit it at the zoo. I remember it was wonderful thing to go to the zoo and see grandpapa's lion.

We did know who he was because everyone was always talking about him. Of course, after the war, the people were very much influenced by it in England. We had rations for candy and sugar. Americans actually sent over treats sometimes.

The whole feeling of the war went on a long time. People always talked about before-the-war and after-the-war.

One of my works is called Breakthrough. I got a 32-foot section of the Berlin wall when it came down. And I cut out a figure of a man and a woman, so you could walk through the wall. One side has graffiti and the other is blank.

It's in Fulton, Mo., the same place where my grandfather gave his famous "Iron Curtain" speech in 1946.

The dedication was done by Ronald Reagan, and the next year (Mikhail) Gorbachev walked through my work.

With works like that, I call it yin and yang. I'll cut something out and then show the reverse. Something's in and something's out. You've got to read the space. The idea was how to portray an abstract idea like freedom. To portray freedom, you need to portray non-freedom. The wall represents a barrier, and the man and woman breaking through the wall was the push for freedom.

The wall came down in 1989, and I did the piece in 1990. It was very relevant then. Everyone was happy that the wall came down. But it's relevant again today. There are walls being put up in Israel and Mexico.

Some of the things start cerebrally and some start emotionally. With Christa, I was trying to portray women suffering. People read into it what they want, and it became controversial. During that time women's lib was prominent, even in London. So I took something from a man's perspective and turned it into a woman's perspective.

With the flowers, the tulips (12-foot tall painted aluminum cutouts), it's a pure expression of joy. That's abstract, as well. I chose a flower, and my favorite color is red. I think there's a part of the brain that wants symmetry, but there are other parts that like food for thought.

Right now I'm getting material together for a book being written about my art. It's quite a lot to do. I'm the one who has all the photos of the things and knows what they are. That's a lot of information gathering. Otherwise, I'm working on a few commissions. I'm working on a sort of giant bird. But you can't always do a big sculpture. So I'm also doing quite a bit of prints.

Online Source:

Biography from the Archives of askART
During the last 30 years Edwina has created art of international acclaim that includes sculpture, paintings, collage and works on paper. Her work has reached a wide audience far beyond the realm of the private collector. Early in her career, for the 1979 United Nations' Year of the Child, she created three monumental sculptures, which are now installed at UN centers in New York, Geneva and Vienna. A decade later, she used dismantled sections of the Berlin Wall to create an extraordinary sculpture, Breakthrough, now permanently sited at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, where Winston Churchill gave his historic "Iron Curtain" speech.

However, she does not focus solely on political subjects, but also frequently explores the relationships between man and woman. Major works include her series The States of Woman, and The Marriage Bed, which is in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

From her earliest work of social commentary, which began in London in the 1970's with lively paintings of the vibrant world she inhabited, Edwina showed her own distinctive style, which readily translated into other materials. Most notable of her bronzes is Christa, a female Christ figure on the cross, created in 1975. After being on display in numerous churches, Christa was installed at Easter 1984 in New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The media coverage created a worldwide furor and she experienced the double-edged sword of public debate, as both praise and outrage flooded in.

Today her works are mainly large-scale metal sculptures which include her iconic Eve's Apple and her Sunflower Woman, commissioned by Henry Buhl for his celebrated Sunflower Collection.

A New Yorker by choice and marriage, Edwina Sandys was born and raised in London. In 1969 she considered standing for Parliament, which placed her squarely within her family's tradition. Not only was her father the British Cabinet Minister, Duncan Sandys, but her grandfather was Winston Churchill. It is telling that these major political figures were both talented artists. Through her richly varied life experience, Edwina is uniquely situated to create work related to the global issues of our time.

Her work is now reaching a broader audience through the recent airing of the PBS biographical documentary One Bite of the Apple.

Pillars of Justice 2007
Painted Steel 15' high by 20' wide.
A classical pediment supported by eleven columns shaped in human form. The visitor stands in the vacant space and becomes
the "twelfth juror".

Twin Crosses 2003
Stainless Steel, incorporating an actual piece of the destroyed World Trade Center. US Embassy Residence, Dublin, Ireland.
Millennium Arch 2000
Granite, 15' high. An arch with the figures
of man and woman cut out from the rough-hewn upright stones. The polished figures stand free. University of Missouri,
Rolla, MO.

Tulips 1999
Aluminum, 10' high. Giant tulips, exhibited Park Ave., NYC. Brooklyn Bridge Park. Permanently installed Clark Botanic Gardens, Town of North Hempstead, NY.

Eve's Apple 1998
Painted Steel, 12' high. Odette Sculpture Garden, Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Team Spirit 1995
Stainless Steel, 20' high. Star-like figures support each other to form a network. National Data Company, Atlanta, GA.

Paradise Regained 1992
Painted Aluminum, 18' high. UN Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Sections of Berlin Wall, 12' high by 32' long. Figure are cut through the Wall. Westminster College, Fulton, Mo., the 1946 site of Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech.

Break Free 1990-4
Sections of the Berlin Wall, 12' high. Figures of man and woman free themselves from oversized barbed wire, Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY.

Branches of Promise 1989
Laminated Glass & Stainless Steel, 14' high. Arches formed by six intertwined trees. Monsanto Headquarters, St. Louis, Mo.

Woman Free 1989
Carrara Marble, 15' high. A Polished woman stands free of rough-hewn marble block. United Nations, Vienna, Austria.

Child, Family, Generations 1979-80
Marble, Bronze, Aluminum, 15,14,12'high.Three separate sculptures in different materials, installed at UN Centers in New York, Geneva & Vienna.

Crane Kalman Gallery, London
Origin Gallery, Dublin
Coe Kerr Gallery, NYC
Museum of Palm Springs, CO
Washington Gallery, DC
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
Hofstra University, NY
New York Academy of Sciences
National Museum Women in the Arts, DC
Yaneff Gallery, Toronto
Galleria del'Obelisco, Rome
Masterworks National Gallery, Bermuda
Ann Norton Sculpture Garden, Palm Beach, FL
Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale,
Chelsea Art Museum, New York

PaineWebber Gallery, New York
Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach
Columbus Museum of Art
Delaware Art Museum
Winnipeg Gallery
Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY

Permanent Collections include
Tate Gallery
Brooklyn Museum
Ronald Reagan Library


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About  Edwina Sandys

Born:  1938 - London, England
Known for:  social commentary sculpture, painting, lithographs