Current media coverage, active campaigns, public involvement and creative interventions, in the debate that has been running since at least 1952.
If you are thinking of starting a campaign for a statue or memorial honouring women and would like to find some wonderful inspiration for ways of getting attention just check the tactics used in campaigns like those for Mary Wollstonecraft and Emmeline Pankhurst.
What a brainwave to project Mary Wollstonecraft's image on to the Houses of Parliament, a great way to get her in the public eye.
And imagine the power of organising a public vote like the one in Manchester to start the conversation and get a real sense from the wider public about who they truly value.
The energetic, effective campaign, led by engineer Jane Priston, to celebrate the astonishing achievements of pioneering aviator Amy Johnson resulted in not one but two beautiful, lively statues.
So that’s a thought to bear in mind; is there more than one place that is significant in the life of the person or group that you are campaigning for? Once the sculptor’s work is done, more than one cast can be made. We have such a lot of ground to make up in terms of the recognition of women that this is a strategy worth considering. Amy was important both to the people of Hull where she was born and in Herne Bay where she died.
Another clever feature of these statues is that even without a sound component they still allow Amy’s inspiring words to reach us through engravings of her words on the surface of the statue.
And for some food for thought from the USA take a look at the Moving On page for the Millie Dresselhaus video. Attitudes are changing everywhere.
The clever "Wifies" - www.wifie.org.uk - in Edinburgh made life size portraits (above) of the women they wanted to see honoured, then set them around the city: a real call to action.
Sheffield City Council used the “Just Giving” site as part of their fundraising efforts. They attracted 295 supporters and exceeded their goal of raising £150,000 and actually got £163,166. The campaign reached a highly motivated group of givers. One of the very many supporters who donated said she had made her donation:
“In memory of our lovely brave Mother, Mary Gilbert (Nee Broomhead) who worked in Munitions at Stocksbridge Steel Works during the Second World War. Remembering too, all these ladies, from both wars.”
With the extra money raised Sheffield City Council were able to strike commemorative medals to be presented to the surviving steel factory workers.
Aug. 7, 2021
This Year marks the 10th annual Re-Veiling ceremony of the H M Stanley in Denbigh. The ceremony has been performed annually by a band of supporters from Denbigh, North Wales and further afield since the H M Stanley statue by Nick Elphick was erected in 2011. And the two artworks – the Elphick statue, and the annual Re-Veiling of the statue - are now irrevocably combined, each meaningless without the other.
The Elphick statue on its own celebrates Stanley without questioning his role in the colonial history of the Congo as agent for the brutal regime of King Leopold II of Belgium during which 10 to 15 million Congolese people died. Documents from the period provide proof of Stanley’s own cruelty, and his approval of abuses by others. The Re-Veiling ceremony includes covering the sculpture with a giant rubber condom in a symbolic attempt to contain ideas and actions that lead to obliviousness of the suffering of others.
The Re-Veiling of the HM Stanley ceremony is part of a world-wide movement challenging public statues of figures of slave owners and colonialists. It aims to draw attention to the legacy of exploitation in countries like the Congo that were colonised for the extraction of natural resources and people for building imperial wealth. Black Lives Matter has shown us how the inherited wealth, values and guilt from that terrible period are still influencing our culture, our institutional structures and our deeply held beliefs today.
“Lest we forget”: Not just a question of keep or remove
This year, following the raising of awareness by the Black Lives Matter movement and the subsequent Welsh government audit of commemoration relating to the slave trade, the people of Denbigh are being asked their opinions on the fate of this statue. Some of the protestors think the statue should be removed completely, but others, particularly the artists in the group, think it is important to keep visible the true history of those times, with all its conflicts, contradictions, illusions and horror. As the artist Wanda Zyborska says
'the people of Denbigh and visitors to this historic town deserve to be told the whole truth'.
Remembering our history helps us to change our future. The artists protesting in Denbigh believe that when this statue is combined with the funeral performance it becomes something more nuanced, and thought provoking. That is why they think that if the statue is removed OR remains in place, it should include the full visual history of the statue, as is currently happening with the Colston statue in Bristol Museum, toppled and recovered from the sea.
Battered, paint spattered and fallen, the Colston statue tells a different and many would say more accurate story of the history of the man and his influence. It helps us remember, and change. The fate of the HM Stanley statue in Denbigh will symbolise what kind of society and future the people of Denbigh want to see.
June 15, 2021
Remember the guerrilla street re-naming in Holland last year?
Now Paris has followed in their footsteps.
Paris has about 300 statues of illustrious figures, of which only about 40 are women, mainly only busts, with just a few full size figures to represent "la matrimoine Parisienne"
Joan of Arc Edith Piaf Georges Sand
However, in an unprecedented move for the French capital, Paris is soon to see a statue of "Solitude"heroine of the resistance struggle of enslaved people in the French colony, Guadaloupe, and a symbol for all women who have fought for liberty and equality.
She will be the first black woman honoured by a statue in the capital and it will stand in a park in the 17th arrondissement, where there once stood a statue of General Dumas ( father of the novelist Dumas ) who was born enslaved in Haiti. His statue was removed and melted down by the Nazis.
From inVISIBLEwomen Annual Update 2021
June 12, 2021
This beautiful lively maquette of the Mary Anning statue, by Denise Dutton, was recently unvelied in Lyme Regis, showing Mary with her fossil hunting tools and her faithful dog. This is another great stride towards the erection of this long-awaited memorial to a ground breaking fossil hunter.
The campaign group are now working on the educational programme; the Mary Anning Rocks Learning Legacy, that will go along with the statue, so that she will no longer be one of the multitude of capable, creative and clever women, previousy left out of the history books.
June 11, 2021
A is for Aphra is the campaign for a statue in Canterbury to Aphra Benn, writer and spy, notoriuosly cut out of literary history, despite being a groundbreaker in writing. Virginia Woolf famously said, in A Room of One’s Own (1929) that, ‘All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds. It is she, shady and amorous as she was, who makes it not quite fantastic for me to say to you tonight: earn five hundred a year by your wits.’
"she claimed equal rights with men; she was a phenomenon never before seen, and, when seen, furiously resented.’
Hear more about her on BBC Radio 4 Front Row - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000wsfz - click on 17.05 minutes into the interview to hear Charlotte Cornel from the campaign.
June 11, 2021
This engaging likeness of Suffragette martyr Emily Davison, seated on a marble bench, has been unveiled in the town centre of Epsom. She died trying to tie a Suffragette Ribbon to the King's Horse at the Derby in Epsom. Seen here with sculptor Christine Charlesworth who believes that sculptures should not be raised up on plinths, but should be approachable and easy to access.
The unveiling was covered on BBC Radio 4 Front Row, along with duscussion about the current changing attitudes to statues of women, and the campaign for a statue to Aphra Benn in Canterbury. She was the first professional writer in the English language but has no statue celebrating her achievements. Hear more about it on https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000wsfz Click on 17.05 minutes into the interview.
June 10, 2021
Virginia Woolf, although named an icon of the 20th Century by the BBC, a world-famous writer and champion of women's rights has, astonishingly, yet to be honoured with a statue in the UK. The first full-size statue of the English writer, famed for works such as Mrs Dalloway and Orlando, could be placed in the heart of the town in which she lived for 10 years.
There is a public consultation about installing this beautiful statue of Virginia Woolf in Richmond. This is to see if the public would welcome the idea. Make your views known here
The artwork, sculptor Laury Dizengremel said, will be “a very important step towards celebrating [Woolf] as the iconic writer, the wise and witty woman she was.” The campaign already has over 70% ofthe funding needed - £50,000 - to design and manufacture the statue.
May 17, 2021
Dame Caroline Haslett, the equality campaigner, engineer and inspiration to women, who plugged the nation in to the benefits of electrical power is curently topping the list of 100 women on the 'Waiting List' page. She was an electrical engineer, industry administrator and champion of women's rights. Co-founder of the first Electrical Association for Women and worked to make the benefits of electrical power available in order to free women from domestic tasks, so they could purue other interests and ambitions. In Three Bridges, Crawley, ( where they have dedicated an electrical pylon to her! ) the Caroline Haslett Memorial Project (CHaMP ) is working for a statue to this champion of power for women.
For further information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
May 14, 2021
A campaign for a memorial to Forces' Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn has, most unusually, been given government support from Culture minister Matt Warman. Three sites on Dover's White Cliffs have been proposed for the £1.5m memorial overlooking the English Channel. Fundraising is due to begin on 18 June, on the first anniversary of Dame Vera's death at the age of 103. Mr Warman said it was "not normal practice" for central government to fund new memorials. It does make you wonder if the very poor reception of the Common Sense group's proposal to put up 1750 statues of men paid for from the public purse has led ministers to re-assess the public mood?
April 7, 2021
Sculptor Christine Charlesworth, at work on the statues of Greta Thunberg, recently erected in Winchester, and Dame Ethel Smythe, to be eretced in Woking. Dame Ethel was another formidable campaigner from an earlier era, a remarkable woman from Woking who was a composer and writer as well as suffragist. Christine is also sculpting Emily Wilding Davidson for Epsom, where she was killed running out in front of the King's horse at the Derby, in her pursuit of the cause of votes for women."Emily Davison will be in the centre of Epsom on 8 June"
These courageous historial women are finally being recognised for their unstinting efforts to improve the world, to give women - 50% of the population - the vote. And Greta is being recognised for her work to save the world for us to vote in.
April 7, 2021
Greta Thunberg's statue, unveiled outside the university of Winchester, has sparked a backlash from students who feel the money would have been better spent on them. It has been labelled "a vanity project".
The sculptor, Christine Charlesworth, aimed to capture both Greta's determination and her vulnerability. As a very young person Greta has brought the issue of climate change to the world stage in an astonishing way. All this, despite being on the autism spectrum, which can make communiction very difficult. In an email to students about the piece, the university said it hoped the statue would become a symbol of its "commitment to combat the climate and ecological emergency." One would have thought that would be inspirational for students of the university, both now and in generations to come.
After students complained that it was not appropriate to erect a statue in a year of pandemic, the university's vice-chancellor, Professor Joy Carter, said: "No money was diverted from student support or from staffing to finance the West Downs project. Indeed, the university has spent £5.2m this year on student support." Given that statues are commissioned a very long time in advance it would have taken immense foresight to know that a pandemic was coming.
Odd, also, to see Greta's name associated with vanity. She is, surely, one of the least vane people.
March 27, 2021
Inspired by the Sunderland Soroptimists and author Nancy Revell - whose "Shipyard Girls" series of novels have become bestsellers - Sunderland City Council has backed the plan to raise the profile of women, many of whom played a pivotal role in the war effort. Soroptimist member Suzanne Brown began a conversation with Sunderland City Council, making the case for a permanent tribute. Artist Rosanne Robertson, born and bred in Sunderland, has been commissioned to produce the public sculpture which will stand proud near The Beam, overlooking the banks of the River Wear where the shipyards once were.
“These were women undertaking jobs like welding, riveting, burning and rivet catching, as well as general labouring, operating cranes, and painting. It was perilous work, yet history seems to have forgotten them”. artist Rosanne Robertson
The ambition, now delayed, was to have the sculpture, which is expected to be around three metres high, in place by summer 2020. Kevin Johnston, principal landscape architect at Sunderland City Council, said they would stand alongside Ray Lonsdale's sculptures of men in the emerging Riverside Sunderland area...and that he was hugely excited to work with the Soroptimists, Rosanne and Nancy. "It’s going to be such a poignant piece of art.”
In case we find ourselves thinking that the case for more statues of women is a no-brainer, let us remember that as well as this proposed tribute to the women workers, and despite the country already being exceptionally well served with male statues, six new statues of men have been commissioned at a cost of £390,000 by Sunderland City Council for the city centre, designed by sculptor Ray Lonsdale ( a man ) who also designed Seaham's 'Tommy' statue ( a man )
and the recently unveiled sculpture in Hetton, Da said “Men Don’t Cry” ( another man and boy ).
Cllr John Kelly ( another man ) said: "Sunderland is rightly famed as having once been the largest shipbuilding town in the world and people are tremendously proud of their shipbuilding heritage. This is a very accessible way of celebrating our shipbuilding past and paying tribute to all those who worked in the industry and made it the success that it was". It is good to see workers from the shipyards, collieries and breweries being honoured and understandable to want to commemorate the industrial past of the area, but the work of women seems to have been fogotten unless they took on men's roles, thus making them 'honorary men'? Perhaps it's time for some 'women's work' to also be consdiered as worthy of commemoration?
And to name but 4, there are women who have excelled in their careers and social responsibilities; Ida and Lousie Cook, activists who smuggled Jews out of Nazi Germany, Dr Marion Philips, first female MP in Sunderland or Kate Adie, courageous journalist and broadcaster.
March 13, 2021
A statue is planned for the univesity campus in Bristol of Henrietta Lacks, dubbed the 'mother of medicine'. She died from cervical cancer in 1951 but a sample of her cells survived and multiplied. The scientific work these cells enabled led to the polio vaccine, gene mapping and IVF treatment among other advances. Henrietta's cells are also currently being used in Covid-19 research. Prof Tavare, the dean of the faculty of life sciences, said the unveiling of the statue on campus in October would coincide with the start of the university's work on "the decolonisation of our curriculum which will include an acknowledgement of the invaluable contributions black people have made to science over the years".
Sculptor Helen Wilson-Roe
And her statue will be made by Helen Wilson-Roe, so this will be the first full size statue of a black woman sculpted by a black women in the UK. Great that Bristol has been able to find such a worthy woman of colour to celebrate, in contrast to the sad saga of Colston, the slave trader.
March 9, 2021
Dr Sarah Younan and artist Dr Wanda Zyborska explore memory and memorialisation, monuments and why we have themin a free talk, "Monuments as Memory and Whose Memories of What? part of Oriel Myrddin Gallery’s project Hoelion Wyth Cymdeithas // Pillars of Society funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s #15minuteheritage.
This seems like a very timely discussion of the topic, in which Dr Sarah Younan and artist Dr Wanda Zyborska will explore memory and memorialisation, monuments and why we have them, considering recent protests in America and here in the UK. Wanda will talk about the annual collaborative protest she has been performing since 2012, the H M Stanley Funeral Condom Re-Veiling.
There will be a chance to discuss some of the themes raised in small groups after the talks.
Dr Sarah Younan - Questioning the Role of Monuments as Memory
Statues are a dated form of memorialisation; Sarah will explore and question old and new ways of remembering in public spaces.
Sarah works as youth engagement coordinator at Amgueddfa Cymru and is particularly interested in socially engaged projects in art and heritage. Born in Germany and raised in Kenya Sarah moved to Wales in 2009 and completed her PhD at Cardiff School of Art and Design in January 2016. As an artist Sarah has exhibited work both in the UK and abroad and her practice spans performance, ceramics, digital technologies, research and maintenance art.
March 8, 2021
Design for Mary Anning statue
International Women's Day brings us this great image of paleantologist Mary Anning striding forward - covered in the Page 3 Profile of the i newspaper and in the Express and Star (link below) - epitomising the progress of both this campaign for a statue of her in Lymne Regis, and of other campaigns for statues of women around the country. The Mary Anning Rocks campaign recently reached their funding goal.
Virginia Woolf, on a bench of her own..
All this is all in a terrible time of pandemic when we could all be forgiven for letting our attention be elsewhere. But this has really not been the case, proving again that the memory of these women and their acievements is actually of real importance to us all. What we leave for future generations does matter. This figure of the renowned author Virginia Woolf is, fittingly, on 'a bench of her own' echoing her concept of a woman needing 'a room of her own" in order to be able to work. Laury Dizengremel, the sculptor of Virginia told the Express and Star that the drive for more female statues, “is not about excluding men: It’s about just recognising that there’s a long way to go still on gender equality.”
Three more sculptures by Christine Charlesworth are almost ready as well, to help the steady progress towards that equality.
Dame Ethel Smythe, Woking Borough Council
Dame Ethel Mary Smyth was one of the rare breed who attained prominence as one of the most accomplished female composers in a male dominated environment, and as one of the main representatives of the suffragette movement. Her statue has been comissioned by Woking Borough Council, to be unveiled later in the year, once choral singing is be permitted again.
Emily Willding Davidson Suffragette
Emily had defied the odds in a male-dominated society, by graduating with both a a BA at London University and a first class honours degree at Oxford University. She became an activist who was a martyr to the cause of women's suffrage; killed when she ran in front of King George V’s horse in the 1913 Derby. Her statue will stand in the town centre of Epsom, home of the racecourse, to be unveiled in June.
Greta Thunberg, Winchester University
And just to bring us right up to date, this is a glimpse of the maquette for the statue that Winchester Universlty has commissioned of climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg, due to be unveiled in late March. The work will be known as "Make a Difference"; an inspiration for students of for decades to come.
Feb. 18, 2021
Yesterday Helen Pidd wrote in the Guardian ( link below ) about MPs response to the letter below concerning the proposal to erect 1750 statues of men.
Sir John Hayes said in January: “Tragically, too many who have given and achieved so much have been all but forgotten. In many places, locals may be unaware that they tread in the footsteps of heroes" but even more tragically his chosen route to select those to be honoured is by ( overwhelmingly male ) miltary prowess alone, a group who are already extremely well commemorated. The great, widespread and continuing work of women in all fields of endeavour and in our communities goes unremarked and uncommemorated, often relegated by that convenient debasing catch-all term "Women"s Work". This is in fact the work without which we cannot survive or thrive. Worthy and heroic actions do not take place on the battlefield alone.
My letter Sir John Hayes MP...
I write as the founder of inVISIBLEwomen, a virtual museum and national campaign for gender equality in UK civic statues. The best estimate of the number of UK statues of named non-royal men was 500 at last count in 2016, whilst named non-royal women numbered just 25. Given this astonishing existing imbalance I was shocked by the proposal of the Common Sense Group concerning the erection of statues to all holders of both the Victoria and George Cross.
You are reported as saying that the group
“has launched a campaign to honour every recipient of the VC and GC through the erection of a statue, immortalising them in their place of birth”,
Coming from a government that has so often stated its backing for gender equality this idea seems wholly retrograde. These are, without doubt all heroic people, but the vast majority of them are men and civic statues are already overwhelmingly male.
There are laws about discriminating against women, but it seems that women can, in fact, be hugely discriminated against in terms of who we as a nation have to ‘look up to’ both literally and figuratively, in our civic statues. Nationally there are a number of active campaigns for statues of women and a long waiting list of nearly one hundred other worthy candidates on the inVISIBLEwomen website. If the public purse is really to be used for new statues surely it is these women who should have first call on such funding? Even if every one of them had a statue, we would still not have come close to gender equality in who we look up to on civic plinths, but at least it would be a step in the right direction.
The Fawcett Society reports that of the 1761 holders of the Victoria and George Cross all are male except for 11 women. If the suggestion to erect statues of all of these were implemented, even including the few recent additions to statues of women, men would still outnumber women by the staggering amount of 2250 to 50. Surely members of a government that makes claims to embrace gender equality should not now be promoting a move which would set back equality of representation in UK statues by decades.
Current campaigns for statues of women include the suffragettes Mary Clarke, Amy Walmsley, Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, and Sylvia Pankhurst, the palaeontologist Mary Anning, MP Barbara Castle, author Virginia Woolf, wartime nurse Elsie Inglis and the striking Matchgirls as well as one statue, ready to erect of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher which has been delayed for some time. It is debatable whether the installation of a statue of any other former male Prime Minister would have had to endure such controversy.
Mary Clarke died so women could vote. Elsie Inglis and her team saved the lives of thousands of soldiers.The Matchgirls changed the course of industrial relations in this country. These women are in no way negligible. Given that we are already so extremely well supplied with monuments to men and the military, now has to be the time to honour these overlooked women and so begin to achieve a more balanced view of what and who is worthy of being ‘looked up to”.
cc Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP