“Lawrence of Arabia: Paying Tribute to a Local Welsh Hero”
A Gwynedd village commemorated the death of its most famous son 80 years to the day on 19th May 2015. The legendary Thomas Edward Lawrence died in Dorset on May 19th 1935. Lawrence of Arabia, as he became known, was born in Tremadog in 1888 and gained notoriety leading the Arab rebellion against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Falklands war veteran, Simon Weston, unveiled a bench and plaque in front of Snowdon Lodge, the house were T.E. Lawrence was born. The owners of Snowdon Lodge, Carl Borum and Anja Grunert, have commissioned a life size bronze of Lawrence by David to be installed at the site.
It is hoped that this sculpture will inject interest in the heritage of the region and encourage tourism to the Porthmadog-Tremadog area. Although there is a bust of Lawrence in the crypt at St. Paul’s Cathedral and a stone effigy of him in the church of St. Martin in Wareham, Dorset, there is nothing in North Wales to recognize his place of birth.
The full size sculpture, dressed in British army uniform and wearing a Keffiyeh (Arab headdress), will be made in clay (using a life model) and cast in bronze. The initial plans are that Lawrence will sit on a plinth of either large slate or granite, which will then be surrounded by a shallow moat of moving water and circled by a higher wall or wrought iron fencing.
Carl and Anja commissioned David because they both admire his work. They were not to know that there was a personal link between Lawrence and David’s grandfather which would make this commission all the more poignant for David: his grandfather, Martyn Williams-Ellis, met Lawrence in Damascus during service in World War 1, just after he taken the city. Whilst billeting themselves in the same hotel, they initiated a conversation after dinner which went “..and where were you born?” (M.W-E to Lawrence) “Tremadog, North Wales” was his reply, to which M.W-E replied “By God, so was I”.
Says Carl Borum: “We are sure that there will be huge interest in this project. Lawrence was an exceptional figure who gained international fame and notierity through the breadth and variety of his activities, together with his ability to describe them vividly in writing – as shown in the highly-acclaimed Oscar winning film ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.” and in his book "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom"
“Lawrence once declared passionately: ‘I was born a Welshman and will die a Welshman’. We are delighted that the work of David Williams-Ellis will undoubtedly do justice to such a proud statement”.
Carl and Anja have full planning permission for a hotel with training and leisure facilities to be built alongside the house. They have funded the initial maquette which has been cast into plaster, and are now looking into various ways of funding, including the sale of 10 limited edition small bronzes, to pay for the making of the life-and-a-third size bronze with landscaping and information displays.
Says, David Williams-Ellis: “I have spent years working on portrait sculptures, both busts and figures. The importance of this sculpture will be to achieve the character of the man, whilst giving the viewer an understanding of who Lawrence was. My varied connections to Lawrence, as well as my interest in him, have made this commission an irresistible artistic challenge.”