On 22 October 1969 Leo Abse, former MP for Pontypool achieved one of his most successful political accomplishments the passing of the Divorce Reform Act. Forty years later, a bronze bust will be revealed in memory of the Welsh political and social reformer.
Artist Luke Shepherds sculpture of Leo Abse will be revealed at National Museum Cardiff
during a private event on Thursday, 22 October 2009. The bust, funded by the Cardiff Solicitors firm Leo Abse and Cohen will then be put on display in one of the Museums art galleries for the public to enjoy.
Leo Abse has been described to have had a greater influence on the development of law relating to family matters than any other MP in the 20-century. It is believed that his colorful personality and boundless energy, his contacts with the press and his close acquaintance with some Ministers were all of great importance to his huge successes in parliamentary affairs.
Leo Abse sat for me in 1988 in my Cardiff studio, said Luke Shepherd, whos actually Abses second cousin.
"The first attempt wasnt a big success but it became clear there was little to commemorate Abse's life. Therefore I made it my intention to create a further bronze that would keep the memory of his important political work strong in Wales, for the Welsh people!
"Growing up I never took much interest in his political activities, despite him being my second cousin. My parents spoke very highly of him, but as a family we didn't see that much of him.
However, I was lucky to have had this link to enable me to produce this bust which represents one of Wales' finest and most outspoken politicians and most effective Law Reformer in 20th-century Britain.
The donation of the bust to the Museum is sponsored by Abse's solicitors firm Leo Abse and Cohen Solicitors, which still retains his name and is one of the largest in Wales. Robin Williams, Senior Partner at Leo Abse and Cohen Solicitors said:
"We are very proud to have this opportunity to contribute to the Museum's fine collection and provide a permanent memorial to Leo."
The bust is Shepherd's second work to be displayed at National Museum Cardiff. His first was commissioned by the Derek Williams Trust to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the association of the Museum with the Trust.
Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art, Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales commented:
Amgueddfa Cymru collects images of Welsh people who have excelled in their chosen field, and holds several thousand portraits in a range of media. We are deeply grateful to Leo Abse and Cohen Solicitors for enabling us to acquire this exceptional likeness of one of the great social reformers of the 20th century.