Winged Lion Memorial to stay in place

City official backtracks on remarks made a few weeks ago

The Winged Lion Memorial to Czechoslovak pilots from the RAF will remain at Klárov Park in Prague 1–Malá Strana.

The possibility of moving it was raised recently, as the city is starting to make plans for what to do with some pieces of public art after all of the pieces are cataloged. The memorial was put up in June 2014, with Winston Churchill's grandson Sir Nicholas Soames and several veterans in attendance.

But some people objected to the memorial by British sculptor Colin Spofforth as being atypical for the city. The sculpture is a fierce winged lion with a double tail. It represents the Czech national symbol of a lion with wings to represent flying pilots.

Another objection was that the park at Klárov already has a monument, a multicolored memorial to Czechoslovak resistance fighters by sculptor Vladimír Preclík. These people maintain the park is too small for two memorials.

Prague 1, though, fought for the project and eventually erected it despite the objections.

Eliška Kaplický Fuchsová, who is the head of the city's Committee for Culture and Monuments, at the start of August was quoted in the media as saying a “different more suitable memorial” for the pilots could be placed elsewhere in the city center.

The statue, though, is owned by the Prague 1 district and not City Hall, and the district still stands behind it and its location.

Kaplický Fuchsová now says that it was never her intention to remove the memorial, according to daily Pražský deník. She says she values the symbolism of the memorial, but objects to the methods used to put it in place and in particular how the Prague 1 district communicated with the City Council. “In the future, we should not repeat the same mistake,” she said.

She went on the say the discussion of the Winged Lion Memorial had overshadowed the larger project of making an inventory of all of the public art works in Prague. Kaplický Fuchsová says she is more concerned about dysfunctional art that no longer serves any purpose and has degraded in quality.

She added that public spaces are in the process of being upgraded, and public art will be used to add value to places such as Malostranské náměstí, which was a parking lot until recently.

The City has a total of Kč 135 million alloted for public art this year, but that amount should significantly increase next year. She said that it is necessary to approve the prepared guidelines for spending money on new works of art.

The problems with the maintenance of monuments date back to 1999 when the city turned over the maintenance of monuments to each city district. Now there is a question of how many art works Prague has and who owns them.

Kaplicka Fuchsová wants to focus on setting up rules for newly created works that would still allow individual city districts to participate without interference.

But some people are concerned that the inventory will lead to the removal or art made during the communist era from public view. Supporters of art from that era have been pointing out that the art is not being protected when renovations to parks or other public spaces take place. Kaplicka Fuchsová earlier in August mentioned making a park outside of the city center to house the normalization era public art.

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