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Ministry of Defene 40th Anniversary
Air and Water

The gigantic figures above the North Entrance to Main Building represent the elements 'Air' and 'Water'. The sculptor, Sir Charles Wheeler PRA, a prolific and respected artist, the first sculptor to be elected President of the Royal Academy, was paid £12,600 for his work. The figures were carved in portland stone and installed in 1952. Weighing around 40 tons each they are regarded as among Wheeler's masterpieces. Two more scupture representing 'Fire' and 'Air' were planned for the south portico. These were never commissioned probably due to budgetary reasons.

Air and Water 1   Air and Water 2
Today they are affectionately known to MOD staff as the 'two fat ladies'. In the1950s the Board of Trade staff who then occupied that part of the building, nicknamed them 'Mr and Mrs Parkinson' - a reference to C. Northcote Parkinson the author who had devised 'Parkinson's Law' which states "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." Parkinson, a former civil servant, had conducted some of his studies into the nature of work at the Board of Trade.
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