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CONTENTS Foreword by Anthony Haden-Guest 6 Introduction by Sir Roland Penrose 8 chapter 1

In the Beginning 10 chapter 2

Bronze Age and Christa 44 chapter 3

A Passion for Marble 62 chapter 4

Fresh Fields 78 chapter 5

Woman Free 92 chapter 6

Breakthrough 104 chapter 7

States of Woman 118 chapter 8

Yin-Yang 134 chapter 9

Big Is Beautiful 146 chapter 10

Sinners and Saints 174 chapter 11

The Art of Life 198 Chronology 218 Index 220 Photograph Credits 221 Acknowledgments 223




In the Beginning


Edwina with her mother, Diana Churchill Sandys, 1939

Opposite: Edwina with her grandmother Clementine Churchill, circa 1949



dwina Sandys was born prematurely on December 22, 1938, at No. 79 Chester Square, London. She is the second child of Duncan Sandys and Diana Churchill and the granddaughter of Clementine and Winston Churchill, who described the newborn as “tiny but perfect.” The baby Edwina weighed under four pounds and was fed through a fountain-pen filler. Following family tradition, she was christened in the crypt of the House of Commons. Her ancestor Sir Edwin Sandys was a founder of the Virginia Company, which in 1607 established the first permanent English settlement in America at Jamestown. His “Great Charter” of 1618 established the first representative assembly in the New World. Sir Edwin believed that the colonists should enjoy the same rights the Magna Carta gave the King’s subjects in England. Threatened by this potential erosion of his power, King James I declared, “Rather the devil than Sir Edwin Sandys.” Edwina is very proud to be named for Sir Edwin. Two of Edwina’s great-grandmothers—Winston’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill (American-born Jennie Jerome), and Clementine’s mother, Lady Blanche Ogilvy—were fabled beauties and free spirits. Blanche Ogilvy had married Sir Henry Hozier in 1873, but it is rumored that her four children, born more than ten years later, were from other more fascinating stock. Blanche spent many years living in France, just across the English Channel in Dieppe, a town considered bohemian and unconventional by the standards of the day. There she and Clementine were part of a circle of artists and writers that included Walter Sickert, Max Beerbohm, Aubrey Beardsley, and occasionally Oscar Wilde. Jennie Jerome had been educated in Paris and, in 1875, at the age of nineteen, married Lord Randolph Churchill and gave birth to their son, Winston. Jennie took her place in English society with panache. Her many admirers included the Prince of Wales. After her husband’s premature death, she married a man twenty years her junior: George Cornwallis-West, known as the handsomest man in England. “Good for her,” says Edwina.





Chartwell, 1983 Lithograph, 21 x 21 in. (53 x 53 cm)

Romeo Revisited, 1996 Acrylic on canvas, 44 x 64 in. (110 x 160 cm) Hunters & Frankau, London

Edwina’s grandfather not only made an indelible impression with his love of poetry, but he was also the first painter she ever saw at work. “When he was painting, he was totally absorbed,” she says. “I think—well, I know for myself— that painting uses a different part of your brain and your whole being. So it was a great outlet for him, a complete contrast to the affairs of state. One thing that is clear from his paintings is his love of life. He went at it with relish and gusto. A good example is Bottlescape, which still hangs at Chartwell. It depicts a fine array of decanters and bottles mostly open, and a fine disarray of halffilled glasses. Bathed in orange light, it evokes the warmth of the dining room. Loosely painted with bold white highlights on all the shiny objects, you know exactly what each bottle holds, and how what’s in it tastes. You can almost smell the cigars in the cedarwood boxes stacked up at the side of the canvas. This is one of my favorites and it later inspired my own painting Romeo Revisited.” In Winston at Work Edwina portrays her grandfather with two of his favorite occupations: writing and painting. There’s a landscape on the easel and he is surrounded by books, most of which he has written himself. He had much to say on both subjects. As he said, “History will be kind to me—I intend to write it myself.”

“When I get to Heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first five million years in painting, and so get to the bottom of the subject.” —Winston S. Churchill

Bottlescape, circa 1932 Winston S. Churchill Oil on canvas, 28 x 36 in. (70 x 91 cm) Chartwell, National Trust of Great Britain Winston at Work, 1991 Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24 in. (91 x 61 cm) Collection Barbara & Richard J. Mahoney





“Once I have sketched someone’s features a few times, I have them firmly ingrained in my brain. I don’t have to look at them again. I can conjure them up at will.” —Edwina

Double Vision, 1972 Lithograph, 22 x 32 in. (56 x 81 cm)



“The certainty of Edwina’s line and its sure sense of direction are the essence of good drawing— and then there’s the effortless energy. As Blake said somewhere, ‘Energy is eternal delight’ —and so it seems!” —Robin Darwin, President of the Royal College of Art Peregrine Worsthorne, 1973 Pen and ink on paper, 16 x 24 in. (41 x 61 cm) Collection unknown

Edwina’s most important show at this time was in 1973 at the Crane Kalman Gallery in London. In his Daily Telegraph review, Terence Mullaly wrote, “Edwina Sandys’ line recalls Matisse.” Peregrine Worsthorne wrote the introduction to the catalog, which encapsulates Edwina’s work at the time: “Not for her the seclusion of the studio or the dreadful loneliness of the creative process. Her art is essentially and gloriously part of ordinary living, the paint flowing like conversation, with the canvasses somehow materializing, along with the meals and the witticisms, colorful, bursting with idiosyncratic verve, not as something separate and distinct from the business of living, but as an extension of it. “In Edwina’s painting there is nothing which could conceivably be described as an inanimate object. Within them all there seems to be some sprite or imp trying to escape. Of one thing I am certain—Edwina’s studies, most emphatically, are not ‘still lives,’ not ‘nature morte.’ Has anyone ever seen tulips which wave at one with such languorous longing, or chairs that challenge one to sit on them with such cheerful audacity, or jugs that positively wink at one with such alcoholic complicity, or banana skins which have such a look of sad dejection? And as for humans, where better than in her paintings does the face of a child suggest so movingly all the sorrows and joys of the future?”



When Edwina’s art was shown at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg in 1973, H. E. Windner wrote in the Rand Daily Mail, “Here are pictures to look at and to think about rather than just examples of brilliant technique and clever decoration. She draws naturally, and of course I rejoice in her telling, yet simple line.” The Johannesburg Star called it “a strange, tangy exhibition with a bittersweet quality.” The Zurich newpaper Tages-Anzeiger said: “White figures in front of a background of intense color are the most impressive characteristics…in colors of dazzling proximity, she presents interiors, tables, chairs, bookshelves, flowers—the décor of the bourgeoisie. The black outlines of these objects, rather as with Matisse, take the form of ornamental arabesque signs.” In 1974, it was time for the next big step. Kalman arranged for Edwina to have a solo exhibition in New York at the Hammer Galleries. Victor Hammer had visited Edwina in the “Halfway House” and agreed to give her a show but he asked her if she would make some new larger works on canvas, since, as he said, “Folks will pay considerably more for canvas than for works on paper.” She made a whole new show using acrylic on canvas. Edwina had visited New York before with her aunt Sarah Churchill, to visit the 1964 World’s Fair where Great Britain had a Churchill Pavilion, but this was her first professional taste of the Big Apple and it inspired her to explore and make new friends there.

Couples, 1973 Acrylic on paper, 26 x 22 in. (66 x 56 cm) Collection the artist

“An astonishing unselfconscious and intimate scene. You can smell the scented water, hear the cats scratch and purr, see the tulips crane their heads towards the couple…fast, flippant, funny, and deadly serious.” —Shirley Conran




Edwina looking at Christa, 1975

“I like looking up at Christa and seeing her look down on me in a compassionate way. Everyone finds their own meaning. Christ on the cross symbolizes sacrifice. For me, Christa symbolizes the sacrifice of women.” —Edwina

Opposite: Christa, 1975 Bronze on Lucite cross, 4 x 5 ft. (122 x 152 cm) Collection the artist



Edwina’s sculpture Christa (1975) is the high point of her work in bronze. The first representation of a female Christ on a cross, it provoked frenzied attention worldwide. Shown first in London in 1975, Christa was exhibited in galleries and churches in Rome, Toronto, New York, Washington, and Kansas City, and at Yale and other universities over the next several years. How did Christa come to be? The idea came to Edwina in a flash in 1973, driving to the studio, in the middle of traffic: “I’ll make a female Christ, that’s what I’ll do,” Edwina remembers thinking. “I didn’t make any sketches. I didn’t think it through or consider at that time the implications of such a piece. I didn’t have a model. I used my own hands and feet, and an imaginary face. I made it in clay. It took me three days to complete. It was largely a subconscious act on my part. One can allow oneself to enter into a partnership with a work and let it go where it seems to want to go, only checking and directing it occasionally as one would a growing child.” This was the first of Edwina’s work to become identified with feminism, or at least a form of it that was to recur in much of her subsequent work. “I wanted to make it as womanly as possible,” she continues. “In my art, I have to start from myself. I start from being a woman. To some extent I make things in my own image. That’s natural. It was not a conscious feminist statement although the United Nations had announced the Decade for Women, and Women’s Lib had reached London, albeit in a rather foggy way. “One of the most important things was naming the piece Christa. Giving a name to a work of art is a way of communicating with the viewer. After Christa was named she started to have a life of her own.” Although Christa was well traveled and had already experienced her share of controversy, it was when the sculpture returned to New York City in 1984 that its impact registered in a big way. Christa was put on display at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine during Holy Week in 1984, when the Bishop of New York, Paul Moore, celebrated the Easter service. The Very Reverend James Parks Morton, Dean of the Cathedral, who had organized the exhibit, said that Christa simply reminded viewers that women as well as men are called upon to share the suffering of Christ. Dean Morton describes the scene: “All hell broke loose. The press was there, films were being made of Christa all day. The news hit Rome on Easter Day: ‘Episcopal Cathedral in New York has female Christ.’ That went over really swimmingly at the Vatican. I was fascinated by the amount of very strong opinion for and against. Nothing was lukewarm. Edwina is always interested in touching the edge. She knows what’s going to get to people. The response was electric. Christa became an incredible learning experience for people in the Church, and in churches all over the world.”




A Passion for Marble

I Edwina drawing on marble slab, 1977

“If I close my eyes and run my hands over the sculpture, I know if it’s right, if it’s working. Feeling the marble is like stroking a horse or the skin of a beautiful man.” —Edwina

Woman Free, 1989 Marble, height 15 ft. (4 m 58 cm) Vienna International Centre, Vienna, Austria



n the late 1970s, while staying at her house in Tuscany, near Lucca, Edwina made friends with many Italians including Piero Fabricotti, who was in the marble-cutting business. One day she went to lunch with him and his wife, Francesca, in their ancient home in the center of Carrara. He knew of Christa and Edwina’s other bronze work, and after taking her up the mountain to see the quarries, he said, “Edveeena, I will give you marble to make a sculpture.” Piero then introduced her to Carlo Nicoli, whose family had had a marble carving studio in Carrara since the days of Michelangelo. And so, while continuing her work in bronze as well as painting and drawing, Edwina began experimenting with her new material. Marble unleashed a flood of creativity. Inspired by its tactile and sensuous qualities, Edwina found new ways to express her ideas about the solid and the void— and about the female form. Working with marble was totally different from anything she had done before. Instead of building up as with malleable clay, working with stone is all about cutting away what isn’t wanted. And stone is unforgiving. If you make a mistake, there’s no going back. “With clay I can endlessly try things out— put a nose on, turn it up, push it sideways, squish it down,” says Edwina. “With marble, once it’s cut, that’s it!” With this in mind, she decided to approach working with marble in a deliberately different way. “I purposely started with some flat pieces,” she says. “The first finished piece was an eight-foot Adam & Eve, simple silhouettes of a man and a woman. Eve’s figure has two cut-out hands, modeled on mine, as if she is hiding her naked breasts. Adam’s own cutout hands are strategically placed to cover both figures’ genitals.” In their spareness, this and her other cut-outs were more like Edwina’s earlier line drawings than her recent bronzes. Between 1977 and 1983 Edwina created about thirty marble works, ranging in height from fifteen inches to fifteen feet, and in subject matter from horse heads to women’s profiles. During this time they were shown at the Yaneff Gallery, Toronto; the Crane Kalman Gallery, London; and the Coe Kerr Gallery, New York. Coe Kerr Partner O. Kelley Anderson, Jr., commented, “The work is warm, mysterious, economic, and, quite often funny, not unlike the artist herself.”



Laughing Horse, 1977 Gray marble, height 18 in. (46 cm) Collection Albina du Boisrouvray Right: Literary Horse, 1989 Acrylic on canvas, 68 x 66 in. (173 x 168 cm) Collection the artist

THis is new file 350ppi but it needs to be cc’d to white to match what WDLV did

Always enthusiastically involved in more than one thing at a time, Edwina did not confine herself to making marble figures during the late 1980s. During this period she was equally engrossed in her Library series— acrylic canvases featuring many of her marble characters in scenes, often including flowers, and always crammed with books. Edwina grew up surrounded by books and inherited her mother’s library. Over the years, Edwina has repeatedly returned to books as a background for her images—the literary horse, the bowl of fruit, the vase of flowers, the still lives. The brightly colored Library series serves as a literary obbligato to Edwina’s many themes. “Wherever I live, I always have my favorite books with me: Rebecca, A Town Like Alice, The Discoverers, The Oxford Book of English Verse. Even if I don’t reread them, their existence on the shelf is a tangible memory, a reassuring presence. This is my virtual library.” Aries, 1990 Statuary marble with color inlay, height 42 in. (107 cm) Collection Veronica Boswell Aries in the Library, 1991 Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24 in. (91 x 61 cm) Collection Phil Freed 20


Edwina at the dedication of Breakthrough, November 9, 1990

President Reagan dedicating Breakthrough, November 9, 1990 Front row from left: German envoy Fritjof von Nordenskjoeld, Governor John Ashcroft, Senator Kit Bond, Edwina, Ambassador Charles Price

“My grandfather would have been thrilled about the Berlin Wall collapsing. I wish he could be here at Fulton to walk through my sculpture and see the closing of this chapter of history. But I know he’s here in spirit!” —Edwina

On November 9, 1990, one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ronald Reagan, who had stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate and thrown down the famous challenge: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!,” walked through Breakthrough with Edwina, and spoke to the large crowd gathered on the campus of Westminster College: “What an honor it is for me to come to Fulton—indelibly stamped with the name and eloquence of Churchill. What a privilege it is to be on hand to dedicate Edwina Sandys’ sculpture celebrating the triumph of her grandfather’s principles. Here, we rejoice in the demise of the Berlin Wall that was permanently breached just one year ago. “Today we come full circle from those anxious times. Ours is a more peaceful planet because of men like Churchill and Truman, and countless others who shared their dream of a world where no one wields a sword and no one drags a chain. “This is their monument. Here, on a grassy slope between the Church of St. Mary the Virgin and the statue of Winston Churchill, a man and a woman break through the Wall and symbolically demolish whatever remaining barriers stand in the way of international peace and the brotherhood of man. “In dedicating this magnificent sculpture, may we dedicate ourselves to hastening the day when all God’s children live in a world without walls. That would be the greatest empire of all.”



Edwina spoke at the sculpture’s dedication: “For most of the major sculptures I have made in the past, I have used traditional materials—marble and bronze. Thirty-two feet of concrete wall presented quite a challenge! But what more truly noble material could there be than these ungainly slabs steeped as they are, in horror, heroism, and history? “On the West Berlin side of the Wall, people could freely express themselves in colorful graffiti. But on the gray East Berlin side, where no one could get anywhere near to write or paint without being shot, what dreams went unrecorded? “In Breakthrough, from the blank former-Communist side, you see light through the male and female shapes, and when you walk through to freedom, from dictatorship to democracy, it’s as if you were living in a black-and-white world, and now you’re in glorious Technicolor. “Through these openings visitors can pass freely—from East to West, from West to East. They can imagine what it’s like to be on the ‘other’ side. They can make their own breakthrough.” Edwina had reached a new point with her approach to negative space. She had begun to use the voids both as figures and as portals. On May 6, 1992, eighteen months after the dedication of Breakthrough, a wonderful thing happened. Mikhail Gorbachev came to Fulton. This was his first visit to the US since leaving office. Great men are always fascinated by other great men, even if they come from the other side of the fence. Gorbachev made the trip to Fulton for two reasons. He identified with and shared something with Winston Churchill. Both men had made history and both lost the leadership of their nations for doing so. Both sought a world platform to expound their ideas. Gorbachev also came to celebrate the Breakthrough sculpture, made from the very barrier that he had helped to demolish. There were thousands of people watching as Gorbachev walked right through the Wall and stood inside the shape of the man in its cut-out form. Standing at the same podium where Winston Churchill first warned of an “iron curtain,” Mikhail Gorbachev gave a speech titled “The River of Time” in which he discussed the tremendous changes that had taken place in the world and his hope that the nations of the world would “be capable of acting in concert on the principles of democracy, balance of interests, common sense, freedom of choice, and willingness to cooperate.”

Edwina and Mikhail Gorbachev, May 6, 1992

“Gorbachev has a powerful physical presence. I think this is more intense because we can’t communicate in words, only through eye contact and body language.” —Edwina






States of Woman “She has more fun doing what she’s doing than almost any artist I know in New York. But at the same time, there’s a deadly serious aspect to it. There is a definite teasing, cheeky quality to so many of the things Edwina does. But it’s a way in the door. It does get you laughing, but then as you look at it and talk about it, something else engages you. And when it comes to things like religion or belief or underlying themes of people’s lives, she explores them with a certain fearlessness.” —Ashton Hawkins

United Stars of America, 2006 Sketch for large flag Pen and ink on paper, 11 x 14 in. (28 x 36 cm) Collection the artist




dwina was very man-oriented when she was in her twenties. “I suppose it was partly because men ruled the world,” she says. “Women were second-class citizens and often only validated by the men to whom they were attached. After my divorce, reverting to my maiden name, living in my own right, and becoming an artist, I found that my paintings and sculpture began more and more to portray women.” In early 1994, Rodney Nichols, the Director of the New York Academy of Sciences invited Edwina to mount a show of her work at the Academy’s beautiful townhouse at 2 East 63 Street. “The first piece I made in May that year was the Biological Clock, and after that the Target of Abuse, which was similar in style and medium,” says Edwina. “I decided to build on these two pieces and make a show on the theme of Woman.” She spent most of the summer at her house in the Hudson Valley. Warren Street in nearby Hudson has over seventy antique and jumble shops. “There I espied a little red doll’s bed and filling it with nails and roses, I made a tiny Marriage Bed,” she says. “Thereafter I searched for props to express a variety of situations. I picked up a gilded cage and two tailor’s dummies in the Rhinebeck Antique Fair.” In “States of Woman,” an eclectic body of work, Edwina continues her portrayals of Woman in many guises. “For this show, I allowed myself the freedom to do anything and everything in whatever way I wished,” says Edwina. “I would not worry about medium, size, or whether the work was figurative or abstract. The only restriction was that it should be about Woman.”

Marriage Bed, 2003 Mixed media, 74 x 54 x 48 in. (188 x 137 x 122 cm) Collection Brooklyn Museum Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Henry Luce III

“Marriage—sometimes a bed of roses… sometimes a bed of nails.” —Anon.






Snip, 1997 Paper collage, 18 x 12 in. (46 x 30 cm) Collection Ashton Hawkins

“The adventure begins the moment I cut into the paper.” —Edwina

Right: Torso, 2007 Silkscreen print, 24 x 30 in. (61 x 76 cm) Opposite: Labyrinth Woman, 1994 Paper collage, 24 x 18 in. (61 x 46 cm) Collection Peter Kuhlman



n her earliest work in the 1970s, Edwina used simple fat felt pens to make abstract nudes with striped backgrounds. Right from the beginning, she was exploring the juxtaposition and balance of lines and colors. This preoccupation came to explosive fruition with Labyrinth Woman, the first in her Yin-Yang series of paper cut-outs, paintings on canvas, and sculptures. Working in all these mediums, Edwina expresses the tension between light and dark, inner and outer forms, and the attraction of opposites. Labyrinth Woman started, she says, “when I cut out a torso in the shape of a woman, in a continuous line without taking the scissors off the single sheet of white paper, rather like peeling an apple. I lifted the filigree form and placed it on a sheet of red paper. The piece of paper that the torso had been cut from fell on the floor but when I went to sweep it up I liked it as much as the major piece, so I decided to use both parts, the yin and the yang. “I love to use scissors. I like the clean, swoopy line. Nothing is fuzzy. The curvy, rounded figures of my women come instantly into being with the unequivocal snip-snap of the blades.”

Edwina working in Palm Beach, 2005

Tulips, 2005 Brooklyn Bridge Park



Paradise Regained (white side), 1992



Eve’s Apple, 1998 Painted steel, height 12 ft. (3 m 66 cm) Odette Sculpture Park, Windsor, Ontario

“Consider Eve’s Apple. Red fingernails on elegant white fingers and that sweet and sour electric-green apple, with the fatal bite just taken: an entire theology, wrapped up in a blindingly smart package.” —David Kennard



Sunflower Woman, 1998 Painted aluminum, height 8 ft. 8 in. (2 m 64 cm) Collection Henry Buhl

“The statues are cut directly out of the fabric of human frolics and follies. Whimsical? Yes, but those are whims of steel; and for all their flirty, innocent airs, they do know just where they’re headed.” —John Loring

The sculpture garden in Palm Beach, 2005 Overleaf: Flirtation, 2011 Digital collage, 11 x 17 in. (28 x 43 cm)



EDWINA SANDYS ART The first comprehensive volume about the witty, provocative, and beautiful art of Edwina Sandys— sculptor, painter, and passionate modern woman. From the sacred to the secular, to the most essential questions about politics and society, she has tackled big ideas with panache, combining the lighthearted and the profound. Her clearly recognizable style uses positive and negative images to powerful effect. This exciting chronicle, with text by Caroline Seebohm, spans four decades of Edwina Sandys’ work.

“Sandys has a natural talent for line. Her line can sing through space or summon up a concrete form, being at once muscular and effortlessly fluid It is also a witty line. Wit is rarely attempted in art and even more rarely achieved.”

“The wit and the artistry of Edwina Sandys in Marriage Bed is extraordinary.... We were captivated by the concise symbolism of its sharp nails and scarlet roses.” —Leila Hadley Luce, collector

—Anthony Haden-Guest, from the foreword

“Edwina Sandys is the granddaughter of Winston Churchill. She is also the granddaughter of Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Henri Matisse and Alexander Calder.”

“I feel Edwina has more ideas coming out of her in any given period than many artists have in a whole long life. She’s not afraid of using up her ideas.” —Ashton Hawkins, collector

—John Loring, Design Director Emeritus, Tiffany & Co.

“In Edwina’s painting there is nothing which could conceivably be described as an inanimate object. Within them all there seems to be some sprite or imp trying to escape. Of one thing I am certain—Edwina’s studies, most emphatically, are not ‘still lives’, not ‘nature morte.’”

“Edwina Sandys might be placed in the company of some of Britain’s best artists whose talent for graphic line and literary allusion has created a significant allure. William Blake, Aubrey Beardsley, and David Hockney readily come to mind.”

—Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, British journalist

—Ronald Kuchta, former director, Everson Museum of Art


Edwina Sandys with Berlin Wall sculpture

224 pages hardcover 9 x 11 in. 275 color images red gilding on page edges

Glitterati Incorporated 225 Central Park West New York, New York 10024 Copyright © 2011 by Edwina Sandys Printed and bound in China

Profile for Edwina Sandys

Edwina Sandys Art  

The first comprehensive volume about the witty, provocative, and beautiful art of Edwina Sandys— sculptor, painter, and passionate modern wo...

Edwina Sandys Art  

The first comprehensive volume about the witty, provocative, and beautiful art of Edwina Sandys— sculptor, painter, and passionate modern wo...