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Millicent is Marching to Parliament Square
Oct. 3, 2017
Breaking the mould of the "hushed genre of the honorific statue"
The statue of Millicent Fawcett by Gillian Wearing has a clever twist on the traditional civic commemoration. When you look at it you see a woman who could almost have been with us on the Women's March this year... now she is going to be the first woman on a plinth alongside the 11 men in Parliament Square, that ancient male preserve of totems of patriarchal power, who will finally be joined by a woman - a protestor and activist immortalised.
Gillian Darley writes in Apollo Arts Magazine that sculptor Gillian Wearing's statue of Fawcett, shows, " faithfully enough, a woman in an ankle-length dress (ornamented by a brooch cast from one she owned, a small note of added authenticity) and plainly dressed hair, cast in bronze.There is nothing, in that, to scare those easily made nervous by the conceptual.Yet she has succeeded in gently, and subtly, subverting the hushed genre of the honorific statue.
Fawcett is holding a large placard (as do many of Wearing’s subjects, more usually in photographs). The words on it are those with which Fawcett marked Emily Davison’s tragic death at the Epsom Derby in 1913, her life lost for their common cause, votes for women; ‘Courage calls to Courage Everywhere.’ The scale and form of the message and the surface on which the words are freely lettered, translates the statue straight into our moment."