“It's easy to pinpoint the problem with Ian Walters's 9ft bronze statue of Nelson Mandela. It's the hands. They're too big. Walters, who died last summer before the work could be cast, has chosen to depict the former South African president mid-speech, hands scything the air to underpin his rhetoric. So while the face may be an acceptable likeness, the oversize, puffy fingers draw too much attention to themselves, over-emphasising the gesture.
As a result, Mandela looks like he is ever so slightly dizzy and reaching out for balance. The effect, unfortunately, is less elder statesman, more unsteady granddad, which is unjust for such an historically important figure. No wonder Charles Saumarez Smith, the former director of the National Gallery, was so scathing when it was announced that Walters would undertake the commission. ‘He [Walters] is not regarded by anyone, even including the supporters of the project, as a sculptor of any public distinction or artistic merit,’ wrote Saumarez Smith.
Sadly, the finished cast of Walters's statue has not proved him wrong: it feels lumpish and clumsy. The best you can say about it is that it's mounted on a surprisingly low plinth. This brings Mandela closer to his viewers - appropriately enough for a figure so indelibly associated with democracy.”
(Clumsy tribute to a great man by Alastair Sooke, The Telegraph)