Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

La Pasionaria on the Clyde Walkway

I think I missed this for years, so have finally taken a decent pic and collected some notes.

I was more than a little surprised the first time I came across a pic of this statue, and couldn’t recall ever seeing it. To be fair to myself, in the past I seldom walked on that side of Clyde Street, let alone next to the river on the Clyde Walkway.

The statue, La Pasionaria (The Passion Flower”), is a tribute by the city of Glasgow (and the Labour Movement) to the British Volunteers of the International Brigade who fought in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-9. Their fight against fascism is embodied in the statue of Dolores Ibárruri (1895-1989), a heroine of their cause and a leader in the Spanish Republican and Communist movements. The sculpture was commissioned by the International Brigade Association of Scotland in 1974, and produced by the Liverpool based sculptor, Arthur Dooley. His fee of £3,000 was funded following an appeal to Trades Unionists and members of the Labour Movement in Scotland.

It stands about 9 ft (3 m) high, is made of painted fibreglass, and mounted on a rectangular plinth on a steel pedestal made from a vertical steel girder.

Find it near the south west corner of Clyde Street, facing the River Clyde from the Clyde Walkway, where it was erected on 5 December 1979.

Sad to say, the dirty world of Politics threatened the existence of the memorial, and it seems that it attracted hostile opposition from Glasgow’s Conservative Councillors, who vowed to demolish it whenever they unseated the city’s Labour administration. Despite my low opinion of certain aspects of this world, I do think things are better now, and such a threat would not be risked today – if only because of the effect of so-called ‘social media’, and the potential backlash.

The memorial’s construction led to further problems, such as under-funding and its weight. The latter led to a shortening of its girder pedestal before it could be transported from Liverpool. While the sculptor had intended to form the statue in bronze, this was not possible due to the cost.

Dooley reportedly had six attempts to perfect his design for the ‘gaunt, outstretched figure’ of Ibárruri, apparently living in poverty in his Liverpool workshop and staying in a working men’s hostel when in Glasgow.

Thanks to the Political nonsense noted above, the statue was erected without any public ceremony, in case those opposed to it caused some sort of embarrassing incident.

The sad story continues since the subject, Ibárruri, could not be invited to a non-existent unveiling, and the sculptor never saw his finished work, seemingly penniless and unable to afford the fare to Glasgow.

Via City of Sculpture: La Pasionara

BBC Archive article inspired the series ‘Coast’ La Pasionaria Memorial

Having been threatened with being torn down in demolition, it is now A Category B Listed Building in Glasgow, Glasgow Clyde Street, Statue of Dolores Ibarruri, La Pasionaria

See also 2009 restoration appeal article La Pasionaria: the fading icon

There are numerous articles online now, covering the sculpture’s history.

Not bad, given the threat to its existence and lack of ceremony.

Glasgow Clyde Walkway La Pasionaria

Glasgow Clyde Walkway La Pasionaria

18/06/2018 - Posted by | photography | , , ,

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