United Kingdom


Website: http://www.felikstopolski

Topolski Memoir

The 'Memoir of the 20th Century' is Feliks Topolski’s visual record of the personalities and the social and political events of a century that he witnessed and chronicled during a lifetime spent criss-crossing the five continents. For the past quarter of a century this panoramic 600 foot long diary, donated to the nation by Topolski in 1984, has been exhibited under the railway arches of Hungerford Bridge next to London's Royal Festival Hall. There has been a steady deterioration in the condition of the paintings and the Memoir is in urgent need of refurbishment.

The Trustees of a registered charitable company (number 1103516) are planning to restore and give greater access to the Topolski Memoir for future generations. The aim is to create a learning resource centre for artists, students and the general public and to enhance the presentation and interpretation of the Memoir for a 21st century audience. Prominent guest curators in the fields of the arts, politics and journalism will bring fresh ideas inspired by themes drawn from the Memoir, using music, theatre, film and dance to project their own visions of the 20th century. Details of a major APPEAL for public and private funds and tax savings can be seen on the other pages indicated below.

Permanent Collection

The Memoir of the Century is a unique, monumental work of art that presents an extraordinary panoramic record of key events and figures of the twentieth century. Six hundred feet long and between twelve and twenty feet high this labyrinthine installation exists as a testimony to some of the most significant moments and characters that shaped the twentieth century as witnessed by the artist Feliks Topolski (1907 – 1989).

Begun in 1975 and opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in 1984 the Memoir depicts, through figuration and abstraction, an extraordinary array of portraits including: Nehru, Gandhi, Lord Mountbatten, George Bernard Shaw, Picasso, General de Gaulle, Martin Luther King, Enoch Powell, Nye Bevan and Laurence Olivier, among 700 other leading figures of the 20th Century.

These derive from Topolski’s own personal experience, initially captured in pencil and ink drawings, which he produced throughout his life and published in Topolski’s Chronicle.

Topolski was widely known as a war artist and chronicler of London’s social and cultural scene. He designed costumes and sets for the plays of George Bernard Shaw, for whom he also illustrated many published works. He provided portraits for John Freeman’s 33 ground-breaking ‘Face to Face’ interviews. He also published 24 books of his own, including his autobiography ‘Fourteen Letters’.

Topolski’s work is enjoying a fundamental reassessment with new displays at the National Portrait Gallery, Buckingham Palace and the Polish Cultural institute. Interest in the artist has also been resurrected in various museums and galleries that own his paintings and drawings, including the V & A, Imperi...+ [ Read all ]

Opening hours

The Memoir of the Century CLOSES to the public temporarily 3 MARCH 2007 for restoration to continue, but MAY be visited by private arrangement and can still be seen on the Virtual Memoir website,

Museum internal and external photos (3)

Click on the images to enlarge


Who owns the Memoir? Why has it fallen into disrepair and why don’t they pay for the restoration?

The Memoir is owned by the South Bank Centre. The Centre faces many competing challenges for its funding and cannot respond to its large range of responsibilities. Its current focus is a major refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall. The Centre is playing a key role in supporting and assisting the Topolski Memoir Appeal. It cannot, however, fund the required costs of restoring, refurbishing and re-presenting the Memoir to the public.
How does the Memoir contribute to the South Bank area?

Topolski was the first artist to establish a studio on the South Bank at the time of the Festival of Britain, 53 years ago. The restoration of the Memoir and Topolski’s studio will provide a key attraction which will help animate the new Festival Square which is being developed to the rear of the Royal Festival Hall.

Who is leading the project to restore the Memoir?

The Topolski Memoir has drawn together a highly experienced, dedicated team to lead this project and secure the future of the Memoir and studio.


Lord Moynihan - CMA Group - Chairman
Alex Attewell – Florence Nightingale Museum
Mike McCart – South Bank Board Ltd
Patricia Moberly – Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Trust
Olga Polizzi – Rocco Forte Hotels
Lord Razzall – Argonaut Associates
Lynton Richmond – KPMG
Daniel Topolski
Teresa Topolski

What specialists are you involving in the project?

The Memoir has drawn together a specialist team of architects, designers, curators, conservationists and financial advisors who ...+ [ Read all ]


Feliks Topolski Memoir of the Century: Education - Outreach
London schools partnerships project
Three London schools are involved in a pilot project in creative response to Feliks Topolski’s artistic work. The partners are Westminster School, Kelmscott School, Waltham Forest Education Business Partnership, and ABL Cultural Consulting. The key participants are seven students from Westminster School, in their final year, studying A-level History of Art; five students from Kelmscott School in Waltham Forest, in their final year of GCSEs, studying Art; and two students from Notre Dame RC Secondary School in Southwark, also in their final year of GCSEs, studying Art.

The students were introduced to the historically and artistically significant work of Feliks Topolski in a tour of the 'Memoir of the Century', conducted by the artist’s daughter Teresa Topolski. She provided first hand stories about her late father’s work, and the students have come up with their creative ideas.

Each student is paired with a student from a partner school, and each pair of students together is producing a creative response to Topolski’s work, in the media of their choice. Kelmscott School hosts art workshops on three Saturday afternoons during the Autumn term.

Each participating student has met - and works closely with - someone of similar age but different experience. Participants meet at the different schools during the project.The work the students produce will be showcased in digital form and is featured in part on this web site. Students will also keep a digital record of their progress.


You may make a spontaneous DONATION of any amount (small or large) - just send a cheque to Topolski Memoir Ltd, c/o ABL Cultural Consulting, 31 St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ER.

Or your gift can be a PLEDGE monthly or annually over one to three years and be made tax efficiently to maximise the value of the gift to the appeal and to the giver.

Gift Aid
If you complete the Gift Aid Declaration on the GIFTAID Form, the Memoir as a registered charity (no. 1103516) will receive rebates from the Inland Revenue equal to the tax payable (at the base rate of 22%) on the grossed-up amount of your gift/s. This is equivalent to 28.2% of your cash gift. There is no minimum giving level to make a donation eligible for Gift Aid, but you must be a UK taxpayer and what you pay in income or capital gains tax must at least be equal to the amount of tax which the Memoir will claim in the tax year.You need only complete the Gift Aid Declaration once, as it will apply to subsequent gifts or gift payments to the Memoir. Gift Aid Declarations may be cancelled at any time.

Further relief for higher rate tax payers
If you are a higher rate taxpayer, you should enter the amount of your gift on your tax return. Your tax office will then arrange to give you the benefit of the extra tax relief (the difference between the basic rate of 22% and your higher rate of 40% - i.e. 18%.

For example: If, as a higher rate taxpayer, you choose to make a donation by Gift Aid of £10,000, your tax relief would be £2,300, resulting in a net cost to you of £7,700.

Corporate Donations

Companies can make gross donations to charity and get relief at their corporate tax rate. It is no longer ...+ [ Read all ]