Palm Beach resident Edwina Sandys has created three large-scale versions of sculptures using pieces of the wall.
The Berlin Wall is more than a piece of history to Palm Beacher Edwina Sandys. It’s part of her family’s story.
She’s made three large-scale versions of sculptures using sections of the wall. The latest, titled “War & Peace,” was unveiled on Wednesday at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach. The sculpture is one of 14 works by Sandys installed throughout the grounds.
Sandys’ grandfather, the late British prime minister, Winston Churchill, warned of the coming divide between East and West in his famous “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. His forecast took shape in concrete when the wall went up in 1961.
After it fell in 1989, Sandys traveled to Berlin to acquire a 32-by-12-foot section, which she has used to create sculptures that express humanity’s defiance of political repression.
Then-president Ronald Reagan presided over the dedication of her first wall sculpture, “Breakthrough,” in 1990 at Westminster College. It’s made of a section of the wall pierced by life-sized cut-outs of the figures of a man and a woman.
The cut-out figures became part of another sculpture, “BreakFree,” installed in 1994 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.
“War & Peace” commemorates the 30th anniversary of the wall’s demise. The aluminum work is shaped like a fighter plane with the silhouette of a dove carved out of its center.
The seven-foot-tall sculpture stands on a nine-inch thick slab of the wall that’s incised with related quotes by Churchill, Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, John F. Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt.
“I thought it would be good to do a new sculpture that speaks to what’s happening today,” Sandys said.
The interplay between positive and negative space that runs throughout Sandys’ work reinforces the ideas behind the sculpture.
“It’s positive and negative,” she said. “It’s war and peace and how we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”
Boston filmmakers Susan and John Michalczyk attended the opening. They have made two documentaries featuring Sandys’ Berlin Wall sculptures.
The first was the 2009 “Writing on the Wall: Remembering the Berlin Wall.” The second, made in collaboration with their son, John, was the 2012 “Edwina Sandys: Breaking Through, Breaking Free and Reviving Humanity,” which visitors can watch on a monitor at the Ann Norton.
“She turns abstract history into a concrete work of art,” the elder John Michalczyk said.
Filmmakers from West Palm Beach-based Paine Productions were at the gardens on Wednesday to document Sandys’ remarks about “War & Peace.” The footage probably will be used for educational programs, Ann Norton CEO Cynthia Kanai said.
Sandys’ other sculptures are sprinkled throughout the gardens, popping up in brightly colored flashes within the greenery.
Two strike up a visual conversation with “War & Peace.” The nearby white “Angel of the Sea & Sky” echoes its hopeful aspect, while a few steps away the flaming red “Lucifer” glories in its darker half.
Three figures from Sandys’ “Flower Woman series,” colored white on one side and red on the other, dot one of the pathways. Her “Madame Butterfly,” made of cut-out slices of red wings emerging from a female body, rests outside the studio.
Sandys’ many female forms anticipate yet another important milestone, Kanai said — the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment granting American women the right to vote. “What better time to have these pieces in the garden?” she said.