The London 7/7 Memorial
July 8, 2009 5:23 AM   Subscribe

Stelae for 7/7. The London 7/7 Memorial consists of “52 pillars (or ‘stelae’), cast in rough textured stainless steel, each representing one of the victims” of the 2005 terrorist bombing attack. Typographer Phil Baines (profile) explains the development of the rough-hewn yet “British” typeface, based on “the 19th-century, untutored signmakers’ sansserif you see on buildings around the city,” that is moulded into the living steel.
posted by joeclark (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Nice piece. Thanks.

I get the calming effect he mentions just looking at them. It's not elegant, but something similar: less sophisticated and more quietly beautiful, less classy and more classic. Just... right: simple and memorable. A good case study for this kind of design.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:49 AM on July 8, 2009

acb: Absolutely. And the typo is used throughout the piece!
posted by Bromius at 8:01 AM on July 8, 2009

I know I'm going to looked down upon for saying this, but what ever happend to a nice, little, quiet fountain with a bench and some ivy, and a statue of some Greek goddess and a bronze plaque?

DC (and London too) has dozens of these memorials tucked away in forgotten spots. When you stumble upon them generations later, after most people have forgotten what they are for, it makes you want to know more about the fallen of the "Great Molassas Disaster" or the lost crew of the Uncoquerable or some such. Instead, we get these art pieces that have deep meanings for us today, but generations from now will be simple eyesores or impediments to redevelopment. Why not build memorials that blend and become part of the landscape intead of ones that stand out or stand in the way of the landscape?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:24 AM on July 8, 2009

What a fascinating read. I loved the detail about turning each piece 90 degrees as people like to touch them. All in all it looks like a very elegant and moving memorial.
posted by ob at 8:43 AM on July 8, 2009

Pollomacho, really? You make an excellent point, but this memorial seems to me to be a really good example of what you're advocating. OK, so it's not an 18th-century memorial in every particular, but it would be weird to ape precisely the memorializing style of a specific historical era that had nothing to do with the incident in question. This is quiet, reticent and peaceful too. It's hardly an "art piece" in any kind of objectionable way.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:58 AM on July 8, 2009

Wait, so are the names on the stelae or not? From that first article I'm guessing the latter.

I've got to go with game warden on this one. It appears to be a modern memorial garden (although I've got no sense of the larger space, so take that for what it's worth.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:07 AM on July 8, 2009

The piece clearly says victims’ names are not listed on stelæ but on a separate plaque.
posted by joeclark at 9:27 AM on July 8, 2009

That is a beautiful memorial, my Brando jokes aside.
posted by klangklangston at 9:34 AM on July 8, 2009

I'm not really advocating that it be a neo-classical fountain exactly, that may have come out wrong.

But this piece certainly isn't serene. It just stands there, alone, in a green space. There is no place to sit. There is no shade. It just stands there ensuring that the green can't be used for anything except these monoliths standing there.

I don't mean to sound cold, but eventually people will move on and the events of 7/7 and the lives lost will largely be forgotten in time. This cluster of monoliths will lose the emotional meaning that they hold for us today and then they will just be a cluster of monoliths impeding some future soccer game.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:00 PM on July 8, 2009

Good thing nobody thought like this after the Blitz, or you wouldn't be able to move in London without bumping into a stele.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:25 PM on July 8, 2009

I admire these as design, and the type and the steel both seem appropriate to the precise moment in history. No complaints there; quite tasteful.

But Pollomacho has a point: I would indeed be happier if the space itself could be more meaningful and even useful, even if that means making it less poignant in the right-now.

I'm also a little surprised it's not more about the Underground.
posted by rokusan at 6:49 PM on July 8, 2009

I know I'm going to looked down upon for saying this, but what ever happend to a nice, little, quiet fountain with a bench and some ivy, and a statue of some Greek goddess and a bronze plaque?

Listen, we all love tits. Especially Greek goddess tits. But sometimes violent and random things happen in the world which unsettle us to the point that we become preoccupied. Suddenly we can't even focus on the tits. We're thinking about the crazy fucked up shit going on outside, or to us, or to someone we know. The worst part is, we love tits so much that many of us are totally without the tools to parse all the fucked up shit around us when it enters our little spheres.

One designer of this monumenton said that a goal was to design a piece that visitors could walk around and therefore interact with. For my money there's nothing more worthwhile that this sort of monument, meant to engage some kind of sense-making investigation of the arbitrary nature of a complicated, fucked up situation and problem.

You go, peep the pillars, engage in some (holy shit) thought on what happened. Then you can go back to the tits knowing that you have some means to grasp your world emotionally and mentally, and maybe help fix some of the problems that keep interrupting our sitting around on our benches looking at those sweet, sweet tits.
posted by tastydonuts at 12:10 AM on July 9, 2009

Tits make everything better. Maybe if they just welded some boobs onto the "stellae"?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:12 PM on July 9, 2009

Tits make everything better. Maybe if they just welded some boobs onto the "stellae"?

Now you're thinking!
posted by tastydonuts at 6:12 PM on July 10, 2009

Phil Baines offers some pictures of smelting the living metal.
posted by joeclark at 12:18 PM on July 16, 2009

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