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Pillars of Justice - by Edwina Sandys

Photo: Mark Stegel

The first sculpture installed at The McMurtry Gardens of Justice – The Pillars of Justice – captures concretely the fundamental idea of a fair, jury-based, justice system. This is represented by a Greek temple façade (front and back) with a classical triangular pediment supported by two rows of pillars in the shape of men and women who are the jury.

Photo: Mark Stegel

With minimal detail, Sandys communicates a key element of the democratic justice system. Men and women from the community are the pillars that hold up the ‘roof’ of the justice system, thereby safeguarding the institution that shelters and protects us from arbitrary laws or random judgments.

Sandys often utilizes positive and negative space in her sculpture (each having equal importance) to convey an important idea. Here the negative, or missing, element is critical to the idea she wishes to convey. The sculptor intentionally left out one of the pillars, thereby enabling any person to imagine being in the vacant space and serving in the justice system as a juror/participant, and possibly have his/her photograph taken by a friend or relative.

At its highest, the sculpture is just over 15 feet high, with the architectural elements referring back to ancient edifices, while the human figures are rendered with a minimum of detail in a contemporary style and material. Viewed from the side, the sculpture appears to be a construct of two thin lines forming a geometric pathway. A closer inspection reveals greater volume and a dimension of depth, and, as the viewer approaches (either from front or back), the human figures emerge clearly. The sculpture is made of steel and finished with acrylic enamel and clearcoat.

The Pillars of Justice, at its dramatic location in front of the courthouse, serves to anchor the defining principles for everyone who sees it. It represents and is the embodiment of the philosophical basis of our justice system and is aptly positioned to reflect it. It is readily viewable by everyone in the area and is a most suitable addition to the courthouse landscape.


Edwina Sandys - Artist

Edwina Sandys is a well-respected sculptor whose work has been internationally acclaimed. Born in England in 1938, Sandys was first inspired to be an artist when she saw her grandfather, Sir Winston Churchill, paint. Sandys became renowned for her numerous public commissions as an artist who was always responsive to political and social issues that affect our civil rights and freedoms, our peaceful existence, women’s life conditions and the environment. An international citizen, Sandys moved to the United States, after a long spell in Tuscany, and now resides in New York.

In 1997, Sandys was the recipient of the United Nations Society of Writers and Artists Award for Excellence. In the last twenty years, she has produced five monumental sculptures that were commissioned by the United Nations for their centres in Geneva, Vienna, Rio de Janeiro, Dublin and New York. In Canada, Edwina Sandys created a 12-foot high, painted, steel sculpture called Eve’s Apple (1998), which was installed in the Odette Sculpture Garden in Windsor, Ontario.

Other commissions included Breakthrough (1990), where Sandys cut 12-foot high figures through sections of the Berlin Wall to form doorways that symbolize freedom. This was installed at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri. From 1990 to 1994, the sculptor worked again with concrete portions of the Berlin Wall in Break Free. Here, figures, also 12 feet high, of a man and a woman, free themselves from oversized barbed wire.

Millennium Arch (2000) placed at the University of Missouri, is a 15-foot high, granite sculpture of an arch with the figures of a man and a woman cut out from the rough-hewn stone. The figures are polished and stand free. Twin Crosses (2003), installed in the United States Embassy in Dublin, is a stainless steel sculpture into which Sandys has incorporated a piece of the destroyed World Trade Center.

Edwina Sandys has participated in over thirty exhibitions since 1971 in London, New York, Palm Springs, Washington, as well as in Toronto and Winnipeg, among others. Her ideas are highly original and produced to exacting standards, while always accessible and enjoyed by everyone.