getting attention

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.

Amy Johnson

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.

Amy Johnson statue text

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.

Amy Johnson statue text - Believe nothing to be impossible

Changing Attitudes

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 Pankhursts

The clever "Wifies" - - 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.

The First Suffragette Martyr

March 30, 2019

An appeal has been set up to fund a statue of suffragette Mary Clarke in Brighton, as a symbol for the city of equality, democracy and women’s rights.


Mary Clarke, a WSPU organiser for the Brighton area and Mrs Pankhurst’s sister, has been described as the “first woman martyr who has gone to death for this cause”. She was the first of three women to die following Black Friday, before the more famous death of Emily Wilding Davison under the King’s horse on Derby Day 1913.

Mary Clarke lodged with suffragette Minnie Turner at her Brighton boarding house and was active in building the WSPU in the South East. She organised meetings, chairing and speaking at rallies at both Hove Town Hall and at the Dome.

There is no memorial to this woman who Emmeline Pankhurst mourned as her “dearest sister”. She was a survivor of domestic abuse, and became a formidable organiser and activist, imprisoned and force fed, loved for her kindness and admired by fellow prisoners for her quiet strength, a brave woman who could handle “Brighton rowdies” with courtesy. But she has simply vanished from history. She died of a brain haemorrhage following street violence of the Black Friday march to Parliament and the effects of force feeding in prison.

Brighton has statues of the ubiquitous Queen Victoria, the symbolic Peace Angel and some anonymous women in drapery at the foot of the clock tower ( seemingly just as decoration? ) as well as several named men, but not a single named woman remembered for her achievements, so surely this is the first woman eminently worthy of a memorial in the city.

To support the appeal see details in the following post

Getting the Message?

March 29, 2019

Image: Ben Birchall/PA

This is  Messenger, a giant bronze sculpture depicting a female actor and the largest bronze sculpture created in the UK using the ancient process of lost-wax casting. Even before it had been craned into place outside the Theatre Royal Plymouth it was attracting a mixture of praise, anger and ribaldry. Perhaps this is because it is the largest statue of a woman in the country and constitutes a challenge to preconceptions about women by not sticking to the usual approach to the female figure which tends to be far more restrained, more "ladylike"? 

The sculptor, Hillier, said he felt it was important the sculpture was of a woman, to counter the many male statues that dominate in Plymouth and other cities – something the #MeToo movement has made all the more relevant. “To represent a woman at this scale and in public space has turned out to be a more revolutionary proposition than I had first considered it … at a moment in our history when female actors have transformed the consensus in western society, about the position of women professionally and generally.” 

Adrian Vinken, the chief executive of the theatre said “A major piece of public art can transform the world’s perception of what a place is like. It makes a statement about a city – it’s ambitious, it’s contemporary and it’s forward-looking.”

Hidden Figures.....

Jan. 23, 2019

This statue of Katherine Johnson now stands at a NASA facility in Fairmont USA and the facility has been named after this brilliant mathematician who was featured in the film “Hidden Figures”. The film uncovered the truth of women's importance in NASA - whose calculations were crucial to the USA reaching outer space.

image metronews

U.S. Senator, Shelley Moore Capito, said “I thought this would be a lasting tribute to her and her large contribution to NASA, women and African-American women. She is just one of a kind.”

Katherine Johnson working for NASA in 1966.

image metronews

Scottish Nurses Commemorated in Ypres

Jan. 15, 2019


In 2013 Dr Diane Atkinson launched a campaign to build a statue in Ypres to the achievements of Mairi Chisolm and Elsie Knocker, First World War nurses known as “The Angels of Pervyse” who saved countless soldiers - their first-aid posts were only about 10 miles from Ypres, just 100 yards from the German trenches.

In the spring of 1918 Pervyse was bombarded with gas shells. Fox terrier Shot woke Mairi and Elsie in time for them to put on their gas masks, but he died. Mairi recovered enough to return to the front and, when she came back to Britain, she and Elsie became members of the newly-formed Women’s Royal Air Force.

In November 2014 they were commemorated in life-size in bronze in Ypres, thanks to the efforts of Dr Atkinson and the support of Scottish people. The statue shows Mairi and Elsie sitting on sandbags next to their beloved terrier Shot. Diane said: “We should be proud of Mairi and Elsie because they were the only women to actually nurse on the front line.”

This mix of a dedicated campaigner and the pride of Scotland in its women has resulted in the permanant recognition of true heroism.

Elsie And Mairi Go To War: Two Extraordinary Women On The Western Front by Dr Diane Atkinson

Emmeline Comes Home to Manchester.

Jan. 15, 2019


image sky news

Sculptor Hazel Reeve and Helen Pankhurst

Hundreds of modern-day suffragettes gathered in December 2018to see the unveiling of a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in her home city. The figure, in St Peter's Square, Manchester, was revealed on the 100th anniversary of the first UK election in which women were able to vote. Supporters wore green and purple sashes with the slogan "Votes for Women" and chanted "deeds not words" as Mrs Pankhurst's great-granddaughter Helen unveiled the first statue of a woman to be built in Manchester since Queen Victoria was unveiled in Piccadilly Gardens in 1901.

Hundreds of schoolchildren waved homemade banners as they marched from The Pankhurst Centre to the statue, where they met with other marchers as Eurythymics song Sisters Are Doin' it for Themselves was played. Her great-granddaughter described the campaigner as someone who "defied social norms, defied the establishment and said we can do so much more. She was important to Manchester - her birthplace, the place where she grew up, the place where she had her kids, the place where her husband died, the place where she formed the political movement, the suffragette movement. She is being welcomed back in a meeting circle with people congregating, coming together with that sense of community, with that sense that there's still so much to be done.

Warrior Queen Returns to Tamworth

Jan. 8, 2019

Queen Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, has a bold new statue in Tamworth. She was chosen by the people as one of their proudest connections, even though ignored by history for centuries.

"How does a ruler defeat bloodthirsty invaders, secure a kingdom and lay the foundations for England - and then almost get written out of history?" this is the question posed by Greig Watson BBC News - and the ( unsurprising )answer? " Be a woman, that's how. Exactly 1,100 years after her death Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, is emerging from the shadows."

Dr Clare Downham, University of Liverpool,  says: "She never entirely went away, being praised in some medieval chronicles - even if that praise was that she was 'as good as a man'.

"She enjoyed a revival in the reign of Victoria, when female role models, like Boudica, were popular. And today, perhaps women are again looking for strong female role models, and this anniversary more than previous ones may generate greater interest in the role of women in England's past."

Alice Shackled

Jan. 8, 2019

This sculpture was created in 2012 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of one of the most infamous witch trials of the 17th century - that of the Pendle witches; women who lived in the early 1600's at a time of religious persecution and superstition which resulted in their deaths. 

The Borough & Parish Council of Roughlee led a scheme to commission the erection of a sculpture of ‘Alice’. It depicts her shackled and on her way to trial. Fabricated from brass and corten steel, it depicts Alice Nutter of Roughlee who was unusual among the accused as she was the wealthy widow of a farmer. She kept silent throughout her trial except to enter a plea of not guilty to the murder of Henry Mitton by witchcraft and was condemned to death by hanging. We now judge the persecution and judicial killing of these women as acts of ultimate misogyny. 

Kate Mulholland has written a book about the life of Alice, ‘A Cry of Innocence’.


Workers United.

Dec. 7, 2018

A statue paying tribute to Scunthorpe steelworkers was unveiled in the centre of the town in November this year.

The sculpture signifies the importance of the steelworkers to the town’s growth and the roles that women played in the works, especially during the wartime period. The artwork, by sculptor Ray Lonsdale, depicts a man and a woman returning home with a bicycle after a shift in the town's steelworks during the 1940s. Volunteers in North Lincolnshire spent seven years raising £48,00 towards the cost of constructing the two life-sized figures on top of a plinth

The former mayor of Scunthorpe, Jim Pearson, 70, who is also a retired steelworker and chairman of Scunthorpe Steeltown Team,  said: "We need something to represent all the former steelworkers and show some kind of recognition to current workers."

San Francisco Stands Firm.

Dec. 7, 2018

Photo Justin Sullivan

This monument has stood in San Francisco since September 2017. It depicts young women from Korea, China and the Philippines standing on a pedestal holding hands, commemorating the tens of thousands of “comfort women” who were detained and raped by Japanese soldiers before and during World War II. A statue of Kim Hak-sun, a Korean activist, gazes up at them.

But the view from Osaka, Japan, of the memorial has been critical. The controversy boiled over as Osaka officially severed its sister-city partnership with San Francisco. Osaka’s mayor, Hirofumi Yoshimura, followed through on a threat issued a year ago to end his city’s longstanding relationship with San Francisco in protest of the monument, saying it presented a one-sided message.

“I earnestly request that you promptly remove” the memorial and an accompanying plaque “without further delay,” Mr. Yoshimura wrote, according to an emailed copy of the letter. He added that he would revive ties with San Francisco if they were removed from city property.

The 'Saint of the Slums' Honoured

Dec. 7, 2018

A marble statue was unveiled in Liverpool in September, in memory of Kitty Wilkinson, known as the saint of the slums. Hers will be the only female statue in St George's Hall and will join 12 statues surrounding the Great Hall depicting Victorian and Edwardian men.


Kitty cared for the sick during the cholera outbreak in 1832, turning her own home into a wash house, allowing neighbours to wash and disinfect their bedding in her kitchen. She taught that cleanliness was a weapon against disease. After the epidemic she became superintendent of the Public Baths and Wash House in Frederick Street, established by the city council in 1842.

London-based sculptor Simon Smith made the statue from Italian marble, and took two years to create at a cost of £100,000.

San Francisco Sets Quotas.

Dec. 7, 2018

Almost all of San Francisco’s statues are of men, so the city Is setting a quota for statues of women. The first new statue under the ordinance—only San Francisco's fourth of a non-fictional woman—will be of poet Maya Angelou.

Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Maya Angelou (1993). Photo of Courtesy Swann Auction Galleries.

“Across our nation, women are underrepresented not only in leadership positions but also in public spaces,” said Catherine Stefani, of San Francisco’s board of supervisors. “The accomplishments of great women deserve to be recognized alongside the accomplishments of great men.” 

“The Maya Angelou statue is a first step to accomplishing full representation of women in our city,” Stefani told the San Francisco Examiner. “When we see streets, public buildings and works of art we will finally see the women who have impacted the world.”



An Update on Emmeline

Dec. 7, 2018

The proposal to move the statue of the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst  from near the Houses of Parliament to the private Regent’s University London in Regent’s Park has been withdrawn after widespread anger.The Emmeline Pankhurst Trust, a non-profit group led by the former Conservative MP Sir Neil Thorne, submitted a proposal in July to “carefully dismantle” the existing statue and move it elsewhere. 

The proposal was immediately protested against. The planning application received more than 890 comments, almost all of which were critical. Caroline Criado Perez, who led a successful campaign to have the statue of Millicent Fawcett erected in Parliament Square, called the proposed move “an act of vandalism against women’s history”. The location was "specifically chosen by the suffragettes. I felt very strongly that their wishes should be respected and that it was completely wrong to move the statue to the grounds of a private college.

Alison McGovern, the chairwoman of the House of Commons works of art committee, said: “I am delighted that the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst will remain in its rightful place outside parliament, the place she campaigned for women to enter. There are so few images of women in Westminster as it stands, and removing hers would have been a blow to women’s representation and the history of the campaign for universal suffrage.”

83% Want Virginia in Richmond

Dec. 7, 2018

A campaign for the first life-size bronze statue of the writer Virginia Woolf has been given full planning permission by Richmond Council, after 83% of Richmond residents who responded to a public consultation backed the sculpture. Aurora Metro, the arts and education charity behind the project, believes that a full-size statue of the writer is long overdue. “As James Joyce, the other leading Modernist writer has long had a full-size statue in Dublin, it’s time that we honoured Virginia Woolf’s contribution not only to English literature but also to the on-going debate concerning female equality.” says Cheryl Robson, director of the charity.

In the year that the Suffragist, Millicent Fawcett, was commemorated with a statue in Parliament Square in London and 100 years since some women were first given the vote, the call for more women to be honoured in sculpture form is louder than ever

Now that full planning permission has been granted, Aurora Metro needs to raise the required £50,000 for the statue to become a reality. The charity has a fundraising page, as well as a campaign video here. You can follow the progress on Facebook at @VirginiaWoolfStatue and Twitter at @VWoolfStatue and join people like Neil Gaiman in lending your support to the campaign.


'Curious Footsteps'

Dec. 6, 2018



In Istanbul the Su Gender Department of the University run "Curious Footsteps" walks around the city, telling the stories of those whom history disregards; the minorities, the LGTBQ, the undocumented. In telling the story of the first Muslim actress, Afife Jale, an unexpected result occurred. Afife was ostracised by her family and community for her career choice but went on to become very successful.  She acted in an Istanbul theatre which has latterly become the Rex Cinema. The walking group always stops at the cinema to tell her story. Imagine their surprise to find a bust of the actress installed there.

Curious footsteps group celebrate the installation of the bust

It seems that the repeated telling of her story inspired an architect to sculpt her bust and donate it to the cinema who agreed that it should be installed on the spot where the Curious Footsteps groups come to hear the tale of the brave and famous Afife Jale.

This is one way for us to ensure that women are not airbrushed out of history.

Emily Davidson who Died for Our Right to Vote

Dec. 5, 2018

This tireless campaigner for women's right to vote, Emily Wilding Davison, is reported to have gone on on hunger strike 49 times. In total, the dedicated suffragette was detained in prison nine times. The empty bowl in the statue represents her refusal to eat. 

 Statue by Ron Lonsdale Photo The Guardian

A statue of the suffragette, who was trampled to death by the Kings horse has been unveiled in Morpeth, Northumberland.

Photo The Guardian

Although an annual commemoration of Davison’s life is held at St Mary’s church in Morpeth, there has been no prominent memorial to her life and achievements – except her grave. It has taken 100 years for this fitting tribute to her sacrifice has been erected.