Client: Historic England
[Competition Winner]
Central London

The expression ‘to cast a long shadow’ commonly refers to the lasting influence – often negative – of a historical figure or event, long after they were active. Taking this idiom as our concept, Studio MASH have designed an innovative method for adapting contested memorials to rightly express the complexity of their history.

Many of England’s historic memorials  are built to show the (male) figure standing alone, triumphant and heroic, held majestically above the proletariat on a solid stone plinth. The history told by the memorial is a vastly simplified one of individual achievement. As society has edged towards a more egalitarian understanding of history, this one-sided, reductive memorialisation seems misleading and unjust.

We are proposing to pair memorials with a permanently installed ‘shadow’ extending across the ground from their base. This shadow would contain a detailed story of the figure memorialised, etched into dark stone slabs and inlaid into the paving material. Told from a range of viewpoints, many of which would be conflicting, the story would bring to light the successes, failures, loves, losses, crimes and injustices of the figure’s life and the long shadow that they cast over England’s rich history.

Studio MASH built a scale 1:2 prototype of the Long Shadow for Historic England’s ‘Immortalised’ exhibition, taking General Robert Clive as our subject.

We believe the concept could be effectively applied to memorials across the country, through further development with communities, heritage organisations and governing bodies.

To avoid the mistakes of the past, the development of this idea needs to be a conversation – not three white men saying they’ve got the answer. In the next stages of this project, we would like to discuss the following questions:

How do we decide what the shadow says?

Whose voice does it speak with?

What other forms could the text and drawings take?

Is it enough of an alteration?

Could the shadow be effectively applied to an empty plinth?

Would the shadow work in a museum context?

Send us an email at info@studiomash.co.uk with your thoughts.