Selecting the stone at the quarry
Making the pattern for the text plaque
Text plaque removed from the mould
The text plaque
Making the pattern for the portrait plaque
Creating the sand mould
Pouring the bronze
Lifting the stone into place
Portrait of Mary Slessor
7 - 10
The Mary Slessor Foundation along with other organisations in the city, felt that it would be appropriate for a new memorial to Mary Slessor to be designed and unveiled as part of the centenary commemorations and to create a lasting reminder of her connections with Dundee.
The memorial includes a bronze portrait of Mary and text inscription which are both mounted on a specially selected standing stone.
Local sculptor Roddy Mathieson was commissioned to design the bronze plaques for the memorial. A graduate from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, he works mainly in casting, specifically bronze casting techniques. The artist studied Mary’s features from contemporary images and produced preliminary sketches.
To produce the final plaques in bronze, both the portrait of Mary Slessor and the lettering plaque went through many different processes. A bas relief version of the portrait was created as well as a clay version and a silicone mould which was cast in both resin and fibreglass, with bronze powder added to the surface to replicate how the final work would look in metal.
The final plaques have gone through the processes of chasing and patination and are made of a high grade silicone bronze alloy and are securely fixed to the memorial stone.
The commemorative plaques are fitted to a piece of Scottish stone, granodiorite, which is similar to granite.
This was sourced from the Craigenlow Quarry which is located west of Aberdeen, the city of Mary Slessor’s birth. Selecting the particular piece of granite for the memorial involved sifting through very many large pieces rock in the quarry to find the most suitable stone. This was kindly donated for the memorial by Breedon Aggregates, who operate the quarry. The stone weighs approximately three tons. It was measured, cleaned and cut to size before being prepared for the bronze plaques to be fitted.
A number of options were discussed amongst the Trustees of the Mary Slessor Foundation as well as some of the funders and other interested groups. Historical connections with the area of the city in which Mary lived and worked, were carefully measured against their prominence and visibility. Mary Slessor predominantly worshipped in the Wishart Church, Cowgate, Dundee, which is now occupied by a sign making company and most appropriately a children’s nursery. It was unified with The Steeple Church, Nethergate in the 1960s, from where the Mary Slessor Centre was run for a number of years and was therefore chosen as a fitting location for such a tribute.
The new memorial was unveiled in Dundee on 13th January 2015, the 100th anniversary of Mary Slessor’s death. Many people braved the wind and a snowstorm to attend this first event of the 2015 centenary year, an extreme contrast to the blazing sunshine during the Nigerian celebrations.
Thanks to all those involved in the realisation of the new Mary Slessor memorial: Dundee City Council, Breedon Aggregates, Dundee Plant Co Ltd, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, WL Watson & Sons, Nicoll Russell Studios, Roddy Mathieson, Dr Aubrey Zerkle, Hillcrest Housing Association, Dundee Civic Trust, Dundee Historic Environment Trust, Walter Craig Charitable Trust and The Church of Scotland.