How a 9/11 memorial unveiled in Battersea ended up in a car park
The tragic journey of a memorial to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, made from a steel girder from the World Trade Centre, from Battersea Park to lying prostrate in a Cambridgeshire car park has been unearthed.
Installation After 9/11 was created, by American post-minimalist artist Miya Ando, in memory of the 2,977 people who died in the World Trade Centre attack which also killed 67 Britons.
In September 2011, the 28ft structure, made from one of only six girders recovered from Ground Zero to leave US shores, was unveiled in Battersea Park by London Mayor Boris Johnson.
But after a month the sculpture was taken down because the park, run by Wandsworth Council, was unable to keep it on a permanent basis.
On Monday, shocking photographs emerged in the Sun newspaper of the girder lying in a rural car park, sparking questions into how the poignant memorial, which started life in Wandsworth, soon to be the home of the US Embassy, had been so neglected.
Ms Ando said: “I was deeply saddened to see this photograph, I was unaware as to where to sculpture was being stored. My sole involvement in this project was to create a sculpture from the World Trade Centre steel.”
By lunchtime the same day, Mr Johnson announced he would personally find a place for the sculpture at the Olympic Park in east London.
Boris Johnson at the unveiling
In an exclusive conversation with Pete Rosengard, a trustee at the 911 London Project, tasked with bringing the monument to the UK, he explained he had experienced trouble housing the artwork from the start.
Speaking from his hotel room in New York, Mr Rosengard said: “We approached the embassy and the Irish company who owned Battersea Power Station at the time (Real Estate Opportunities), but nothing ever happened.
“Then we had planning permission for a site next to City Hall, but again this did not happen. The Sun suggested it was ‘dumped’ but it hadn’t, we put it there while we tried to find a new home.”
He added he was yet to hear from the London Mayor officially but supported the proposal to take it to the Olympic Park.
Asked whether he had offered the sculpture directly to Wandsworth Council, Mr Rosengard said: “We absolutely did offer it to them, to go in Battersea Park permanently.
“But Ravi Govindia, the leader of the council and a good man, said it was not possible because of the Friends of Battersea Park, who would not accept it.”
A council spokesman said: “The council stepped in at the last minute in the summer of 2011 and agreed to site the sculpture in Battersea Park but only on a temporary basis.
“There was simply no other site available at that time in London to place it and if we had not acted quickly the sculpture could not have been displayed anywhere in London in time for the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
“The Battersea Park arrangement was only ever a temporary one, and it was made crystal clear at the time that it would be almost impossible to gain planning permission for it to be permanently sited there.
“We feel the current offer to place it at the Olympic Park, which has a vibrant resonance across the entire world for tolerance, peace and global harmony is absolutely the right place to put it.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “We backed the 9/11 project when the sculpture first came to Battersea but finding a permanent home for it has proved incredibly difficult, whether it be opposition from boroughs or, bureaucrats. Clearly this can’t continue.
“The park was home to a Games based on tolerance, harmony and respect, and will soon be home to a massive multi-dimensional and vibrant community – the perfect riposte to those who sought to divide the world on 9/11.”
The Friends of Battersea Park were not available for comment.
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