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5 March 2011

See Jacob Epstein's sculptures on Zimbabwe House

Now the centre of running peaceful protests between Zimbabweans in Britain and the Mugabe Regime, Zimbabwe House, on the Strand, was not always connected to the African country. Previously it was the Headquarters of the British Medical Association, before it was acquired by the Government of what was then Rhodesia in 1935.

The building's facade has been a cause of controversy for over a hundred years, since the installation of eighteen large naked figures designed by Jacob Epstein in 1905. If you look high up on the walls of the building, you should be able to make out the remains of these statues of nude men and women, symbolising the ages of man.

They were deeply contentious at the time, thought to be too graphic, and when the Government of Rhodesia took over the building and a piece of masonry fell off one of the statues, they used the opportunity to destroy the statues by chiseling away extremities and leaving them literally defaced.

Like probably most readers, your author considers this to be a shame, but the Government of Rhodesia weren't exactly known for their enlightened attitudes. For more click here or to see some of the sculptures closer up, click here.

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