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Sculptor Edwina Sandys Discusses Art, The Cold War, Life As Winston Churchill's Granddaughter

Edwina Sandys releases a dove at the 50th anniversary celebration of the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri. May 4, 2017.
Edwina Sandys

The “Breakthrough” sculpture on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton has layers of connections to the site on which it stands. Composed of sections from the Berlin Wall, it stands in front of the National Churchill Museum, which commemorates the site where Winston Churchill famously described the Iron Curtain dividing eastern and western Europe which that wall came to represent.

But Edwina Sandys, the artist behind 11-foot-high, 32-foot-long sculpture, also has a direct connection to that history: She is Churchill's granddaughter.

Sandys, who returned to Fulton last weekend for the 50th anniversary celebration of the museum, joined guest host Jim Kirchherr on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air. Sandys said that she had the idea to make the sculpture when she saw friends returning from Berlin with pieces of the wall after it fell in 1989.

“People were chipping away at the wall, and nobody seemed to stop them,” she said. “And I thought, ‘Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could go to Berlin and make a sculpture out of the Berlin Wall?’"

After that original piece of inspiration, Sandys said, she began to think about where such a work of art should go, and it was not long before she decided that Westminster College was a logical choice.

Artist Edwina Sandys (right) joined guest host Jim Kirchher (left) on "St. Louis on the Air." May 3, 2019.
Credit Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio
Artist Edwina Sandys (right) joined guest host Jim Kirchher (left) on "St. Louis on the Air."

“I thought, 'If I could get a piece and make a sculpture, where would I put it?' And then I remembered my grandfather's speech about the Iron Curtain that was made in 1946, and it's been a famous speech for all this time, and I knew that they had a museum there in Fulton,” she said.

“And so I called the president, Harvey Saunders, and said, 'What if I could get a piece of the Berlin Wall and make a sculpture, would you like to have it in Fulton?' And he said, 'You bet.'”

Sandys also discussed the good and the bad of always being identified as “Winston Churchill’s granddaughter” and what the famous British prime minister was like as a grandfather.

Listen to the full conversation:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. “St. Louis on the Air” producers Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan andJon Lewis give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Jon Lewis was the production intern at St. Louis Public Radio from January to May 2019. Originally from Pelham, New York, Jon came to St. Louis to attend Washington University in 2015. Previously, Jon has interned for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Eight by Eight, a soccer magazine based in Brooklyn.

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