Memory of People's Princess Has Been Insulted; the Statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, Does No Justice to a Beautiful Woman, Says Chief Feature Writer Ros Dodd

Article excerpt

Whether you loved her or hated her, no one would dispute the fact that the late Diana, Princess of Wales was a beautiful woman.

She was also a woman who devoted much of her tragically short life to assuaging the suffering of others.

How, then, could a hideous black granite statue of the Princess - originally earmarked for Walsall town centre - possibly do her justice?

Presumably, sculptor Andrew Walsh who designed the pounds 16,000 monstrosity which was crafted in India, believed it could.

Jeff Williams, commercial director of Mr Walsh's firm, Bloxwich-based Walsh Monumental Masons, declared it 'a wonderful piece of art', while a company spokeswoman gushed: 'Mr Walsh thought the world of Diana and he is very pleased with the way the statue has turned out.

'We think she looks very elegant and it portrays her caring side that everyone identifies with.'

Just how it portrays this remains a mystery to most of those who have seen the life-size figure.

Leader of Walsall Council, Coun Mike Bird, undoubtedly spoke for many people when he described the statue as 'demonic and creepy' and 'more like a plastic toy doll than a lasting image of a princess'.

Yesterday it was revealed that, following the raft of unflattering comments, Mr Walsh had withdrawn his offer to donate the memorial to Walsall.

And not before time.

If someone is deemed influential, important or loved enough to warrant a memorial being erected in their honour, then at the very least that memorial should be in keeping with the public's memory of the person concerned.

Yet the Andrew Walsh statue bears little resemblance to Diana. The eyes are huge and staring, the mouth is fashioned into an expression the Princess never used and the chin juts out unattractively.

The only clues that this is indeed a figure of Diana are the hairstyle, full-length gown and trademark neck choker.

Even if the face of the statue bore any relation to the Princess, choosing to carve it out of black granite was a bizarre choice. Diana's skin was white, not black - so why wasn't white marble used instead?

And surely it was more than a little distasteful to unveil the 5ft 8in figure at a funeral services exhibition.

While art, by its very nature, is subjective, this statue is an ugly representation of a woman who was exceptionally good-looking and outstandingly elegant.

While one could argue that the mere fact of creating a lasting memorial to a highly-regarded public figure is honour enough, misrepresenting that figure is both crass and unnecessary.

Of course, this offering isn't the only Diana statue to have prompted a storm of protest.

At Christmas, the Tate Gallery in Liverpool unveiled a statue of Diana as the Virgin Mary, with officials arguing that for many people the cult of celebrity had taken the place of religion.

Days after the Virgin Mary-esque statue was presented to the public, a painting portrayed the late Princess as a reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga, with eight arms. …