In a letter to Roger Duff, entitled 'One thing leads to Another' (8 July, 1975), Shurrock described how he came to make the bust, having first met Rewi's brother, Geoff:
'I was invited to “Westcote” to meet Geoff’s people & on the 2nd occasion Rewi Alley was home on leave from the Shanghai Fire Brigade in China. He had gone there after failing for six (6) years to make a living with a war mate on some stony land in Taranaki.
Rewi & myself became friends & I asked him if he would pose for a modeled portrait but he would have none of it. I had noticed there was a particular bond between Rewi and his mother so I suggested that I should do the modeling & if she didn’t like it, the clay head could be thrown back in the clay bin. The bargain was made & Mrs Alley was brought to see the modeling & we left her alone with it for a while. She made no comment on going away; I was most disappointed.
However 2 days later I received a wonderful letter from her telling me how she had always thought of Rewi as a dear kind boy but had not noticed the strength of character.
So there it was I had won my bargain. The clay head was moulded & cast in plaster & this plaster head was in due course sent to London to be cast into bronze, accepted & exhibited in the Royal Academy Annual Exhibition.'
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