Shawn Williamson Portland limestone bust of Piloto Pardo unveiled in London

Shawn Williamson's bust of Piloto Luis Pardo in Portland limestone.

A bust of Piloto Luis Pardo in Portland limestone was unveiled by The Chilean Ambassador to the UK, David Gallagher, at the United Nations International Maritime Organisation building on the Albert Embankment of The Thames in London on 23 November. Representatives of 120 maritime nations had been invited to attend.

Shawn Williamson, who carved the bust, was at the unveiling along with those who made it happen from the Chilean Embassy and the Anglo Chilean Society.

Shawn says he is grateful to Harbro Supplies for supplying him with a hefty banker table to hold the 250kg block of best carving quality Portland Basebed stone donated for the project by Albion Stone. Shawn is also grateful to Gordon Greaves Slate of Windemere in Cumbria for allowing him to use its workshops to carve the bust of Pilato Pardo.

Piloto Pardo was the brave Chilean navy officer who rescued 22 of Anglo-Irish explorer Ernest Shackelton’s crew from Elephant Island in Antarctica in 1916 using his tugboat, SS Yelcho, after Shackleton’s ship, Endurance, had been crushed in the pack ice. Shackelton and some of his team had made an extraordinary 1,300km (800 mile) voyage in an open lifeboat to seek help for the crew that remained on Elephant Island. That help was provided by Pilato Pardo.

The bust took Shawn back to his own days as a merchant seaman in the 1980s. He finished his short naval career as a boatswain working all over the world, including South America.

Shawn’s sculpting career has a direct lineage to Rodin. After art college, he went on to train with Lake District sculptor Josefina de Vasconcellos, MBE, a pupil of French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, who had been an assistant sculptor working with Rodin.

Shawn concluded his academic studies with a degree from Lancaster University.

He still works in Cumbria and has 22 major public commissions to his name, including the monolithic Herdwick Ram in West Cumbria, weighing in at 12 tons. Also carved in Portland stone, it was unveiled by The Prince of Wales in 2005 (read more about that here).

Shawn was recognised by the Royal Society of Arts in 2002 with a fellowship in recognition of his work training young people in stone sculpture.