Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
La Pasionaria


Sculptor: Arthur Dooley (1929-1994).
Location: Custom House Quay, Glasgow.
Date executed: (1971-7).

La Pasionaria, Glasgow La Pasionaria, Glasgow

The City of Glasgow and the Labour Movement's tribute to the British Volunteers of the International Brigade who fought in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-9; their fight against fascism is embodied in the statue of Dolores Ibàrruri (1895-1989), "La Pasionaria" ("The Passion Flower"), a heroine of their cause and a leader in the Spanish Republican and Communist movements.

La Pasionaria, Glasgow

The monument was commissioned by the International Brigade Association of Scotland in 1974, and produced by the Liverpool based sculptor, Arthur Dooley. His fee of £3,000 was funded after an appeal to Trades Unionists and members of the Labour Movement in Scotland.

La Pasionaria, Glasgow

The monument is about 9ft (3m) high and the statue of Ibàrruri was made of painted fibreglass. It stands on a rectangular plinth supported by a steel pedestal formed by a vertical girder, and was eventually erected on a site chosen by Dooley at the south west corner of Clyde Street, facing the River Clyde from the Clyde Walkway, on 5 December 1979.

La Pasionaria, Glasgow

A controversial project from the outset, it attracted hostile opposition from Glasgow's Conservative Councillors, who vowed to demolish it whenever they unseated the city's Labour administration. It also suffered a number of other problems prior to its construction, not least of which was its under funding and a weight issue which made its transportation from Liverpool difficult without the shortening of its girder pedestal (Dooley had originally intended the statue to be of bronze but this was rejected due to its cost).

La Pasionaria, Glasgow

After six attempts to perfect his design for the "gaunt, outstretched figure" of Ibàrruri, during which time the sculptor lived in poverty in his Liverpool workshop and spent his time in Glasgow in a working men's hostal, the monument was erected without public ceremony incase this caused an embarrassing incident by the statue's opponents. Ibàrruri had also been invited to attend the aborted ceremony, whilst the sculptor never saw his finished work as he was penniless and unable to afford the fare to Glasgow.

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