The memorial to those who died in the 7/7 London bombings four years ago is exceptionally well-judged. Our public spaces are replete with statues recalling great public figures and monuments to the collective grief at the end of wars. But this is something else. From a distance the group of 52 slender, individually-cast columns communicate a sense of collective loss. But, close up, their separateness honours the individual tragedies that took place. That is what public calamities are: collections of so many personal heartbreaks.
The stainless steel columns are tall enough to be awe-inspiring and yet, as a memorial, they retain a human scale. They are cut off brutally at the top, as were the lives of those they memorialise. They have, as one critic perceptively observed, something of the grandeur of ancient standing stones. Hard steel in soft soil, they speak of the fragility of human life, and of that which endures beyond the grave.Reuse content