British Normandy Memorial
In 2022, the National Sculpture Society (NSS) awards the British Normandy Memorial in Normandy, France with the Henry Hering Art and Architecture Award. The Hering Award is presented as the occasion warrants for outstanding collaboration among architect, owner, and sculptor in the distinguished use of sculpture in an architectural project.
The recipients of the medals will be
David Williams-Ellis (sculptor)
Charles Bergen (sculptor)
Christophe Charbonnel (sculptor)
Valentine Herrenschmidt (sculptor)
Richard Kindersley (inscription artist)
The Normandy Memorial Trust (owner)
Liam O’Connor, Liam O’Connor Architects and Planning Consultants (architect)
Submissions for the Hering Award were reviewed by NSS Fellows Amy Kann and Alicia N. Ponzio, along with P. Justin Detwiler, Senior Project Designer at John Milner Architects, Inc.
The main memorial is an open cloister garden formed by a structure consisting of 160 stone piers carved with the 22,442 names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during this battle. At the center of the cloister garden is a bronze shield upon which rests a wreath formed in laurel and olive, complimented by sculpted text reading ‘Courage-Dignity-Sacrifice-Liberation-Victory-Peace.’ The main memorial sculpture, consisting of a dynamic grouping of three soldiers and a twenty-ton triangular granite plinth, is set against the backdrop of the sea. Overlooking the coastline are five bronze panel sculptures which point in the direction of the allied landing beaches.
Detwiler praises the Memorial for its classically inspired architectural components which are “perfectly detailed, crafted and proportioned.” The elements feel “timeless and classical, while also having a monumental, yet airy and contemporary feel.”
For Kann, the design has a powerful presence. She adds, “the design has empty quiet spaces that feel holy to me. Because of them, I feel the massive loss of life and also the importance of a united stance against evil. It’s the holy aspect, that for me, links those two opposite responses together.
I love the wavy grassy ledges. They feel like rocky waves of water. My dad, who was there on D-Day, spoke of the men jumping into the water, some drowning, some whose weapons stopped working and of the terrifying wildness of the waves. I found symbolism everywhere and I value symbolism in art.”
The monumental sculpture by David Williams-Ellis also brings back memories for Kann. She says, “My dad’s descriptions of those young men and the fear and chaos that they experienced can be read in the clay handling. Even the pose seems to echo the chaos and urgency that happened there. I think the sculpture is fantastic at capturing the essence of the experience.”
The presentation will take place at the Society’s Honors and Awards dinner on Saturday, June 4, 2022 at the historic Seven Hills Inn, located in Lenox, MA. The awards dinner is part of the annual Sculpture Conference. Most of the programs will take place at Chesterwood, Daniel Chester French’s former home and studio – which is now a National Trust for Historic Preservation site.
In 1893, leading sculptors and architects such as Daniel Chester French, Augustus St. Gaudens, and Stanford White founded the National Sculpture Society in New York City. NSS first awarded the Henry Hering Art and Architecture Award in 1960. This will be its twenty-sixth presentation.