Victims' concerns put London 9/11 sculpture on hold

LONDON Wed Mar 9, 2011 9:22am EST

A general view of a portion of the World Trade Center site in New York June 25, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar

A general view of a portion of the World Trade Center site in New York June 25, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

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LONDON (Reuters) - Plans to erect a sculpture in a London park using girders salvaged from New York's World Trade Center, which was destroyed in attacks on September 11, 2001, have been put on hold after victims' families complained.

The memorial, designed by Japanese-Russian artist Miya Ando, was to be crafted from twisted shards of steel ranging between 5 and 8 meters (yards) in height, standing in a pool with lights.

"It is my hope that by standing upright the fallen steel columns, I may evoke a quiet yet strong message of transcendence and the role of education in the growth of hope from tragedy," New York-based Ando said in a statement submitted with the planning application.

London's Southwark Council approved the plans last December and the sculpture was due to be inaugurated in London's Potters Fields Park this September to accompany an educational program and commemorate the 10th anniversary of the attacks by suicide hijackers who flew two planes into the World Trade Center, killing nearly three thousand people.

Trustees of the 9/11 London Project Foundation -- the educational charity which commissioned the sculpture -- on Wednesday said they had decided to extend a consultation period for the artwork after "significant concerns" were raised, especially by British families.

Hannah Ali, whose sister died in the World Trade Center's north tower, was one of the victims' relatives who expressed dismay at plans to craft a sculpture using material from the collapsed skyscrapers.

She told the Guardian she could not understand how anyone could even consider transforming girders which had "bodies strewn on them" into artwork.

"I find it quite disturbing, the actual design is quite raw and crude," she said.

"It is in my interest that that day is not forgotten but I don't believe it should be thrown into people's faces."

Trustees of the charity, which aims to raise awareness and further understanding of the events of September 11 2001, said they had decided to defer any decision about the sculpture until after September "to ensure that nothing threatens the impact or effectiveness of the launch and development of the education program."

The girders were donated to the 9/11 London Project Foundation by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Steel from the World Trade Center is being erected in all of America's federal states and in other countries such as Canada, Germany and France.

Suicide hijackers on Sept 11, 2001 also crashed a plane into the Pentagon in Washington and a field in Pennsylvania.

London is already home to a memorial garden commemorating the victims of the September 11 attacks.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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