The Polish Heritage Society
Bust of Maria Skłodowska-Curie unveiled at Cancer Centre, London, to mark centenary of second Nobel Prize
A bust of the Polish-born scientist Maria Skłodowska-Curie has been installed at The Cancer Centre London to mark the centenary of her second Nobel Prize. She was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel prize, the only woman to win two Nobel Prizes and the only person ever to win Nobel Prizes in two different sciences.
The bronze statue, given by the Polish Heritage Society with the support of the Polish Cultural Institute, was unveiled on March 26th at the Centre, which is at Parkside Hospital in Wimbledon, by the Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland to the United Kingdom, Minister-Counsellor Dariusz Laska.
“We are greatly honoured that the Polish Heritage Society has chosen our Cancer Centre for this sculpture of Marie Curie,” said Professor Trevor Powles, Medical Director.
Internationally famous under her French name of Marie Curie, which she adopted after marrying the French scientist Pierre Curie, Maria Skłodowska was born and educated in Warsaw. She moved to Paris in 1891 to study at the Sorbonne and, together with her husband began their pioneering work into the invisible rays given off by uranium, building on the research of Professor Henri Becquerel. This led to the discovery of the element Polonium, which she named after her native country.
The trio were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on radioactivity in 1903. After her husband’s death in 1906, Marie Curie continued her research and was awarded a second Nobel Prize, this time for Chemistry, in 1911 for discovering a method of measuring radio-activity.
“I am very pleased that the Embassy of the Republic of Poland and the Polish Cultural Institute in London have been directly involved in bringing to fruition this Polish Heritage Society project: a monument in honour of one of Poland’s most remarkable women, Maria Skłodowska-Curie, a figure in Polish history and science of whom we are very proud,” said Minister-Counsellor Laska.
“At present, the sad truth that far too many of us have to face every day is that cancer may affect all of us in one way or another – whether it is ourselves directly, our closest family members, friends, or colleagues. We are in this battle very much together. And this fight, as we understand it today, would not be possible without research and discoveries made by Marie Skłodowska-Curie,” he added.
The bronze was cast from a bust sculpted by the Polish artist Tomasz Maciej Danilewicz, who works in Warsaw and Princeton, New Jersey. The original plaster bust was on display at the Royal Castle in Warsaw for ceremonies involving the French and Polish governments last year to mark the anniversary of the Nobel Prize.
The sculpture, which is twice life-size, depicts the scientist as a young woman – just as she might have looked when she left her native Warsaw for Paris.
“The Polish Heritage Society was very keen last year to mark this important centenary in the UK because of the importance of Marie Curie’s achievements and to remind British people of her origins in Poland,” said PHS Chairman Dr Marek Stella-Sawicki. “We were delighted when we found this fine bust by Mr Danilewicz and were able to finance the bronze casting.”
The bust has been co-funded by the Polish Cultural Institute in London, part of the Polish diplomatic mission entrusted with strengthening cultural ties between Poland and the United Kingdom.
A second bronze cast of the bust is being donated to the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead, north London, and will be unveiled later in the spring.
Read Marie Skłodowska-Curie bust unveiling speech by Dr. Marek Stella-Sawicki, KM Chairman, Polish Heritage Society
Maria Skłodowska-Curie bust unveiling
The bust on its plinth
The sculptor, Tomasz Maciej Danilewicz (left), and Deputy Mayor of Merton, Councillor Chris Edge
Professor Trevor Powles, Medical Director, and Carol Hurd, Cancer Centre Manager
Skye Bujak and Sofia Harding in Polish National dress, with Alexander Harding and Tomasz Maciej Danilewicz
Professor Trevor Powles (right) chats with Polish Minister-Counsellor Dariusz Laska
(From left) Dr Marek Stella-Sawicki, PHS Chairman, Minister-Counsellor Dariusz Laska, Hania Januszewska, PHS Project Manager, and Malgosia Alterman, PHS Communication Director
Dziennik Polski/ Polish Daily - 30 March 2012