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.
June 1, 2020
The National Portrait Gallery, which houses a unique collection of all forms of portraiture of the people who have made, or are currently contributing to British history and culture, has an interesting new post; a curator for Missing Narratives on Women. This is one of the country’s most important and popular galleries.Their collection is the most comprehensive of its kind in the world, with around 2 million visitors each year and a strong national and international presence through touring exhibitions and special projects. They now recognise that women are missing from thier narrative. The Curator will conduct a three-year research project until February 2023 to identify gaps in the collection with an emphasis on female sitters and artists. In addition, s/he will work with the curatorial team on acquisitions and the Gallery’s Contemporary Commissions programme with the aim of filling gaps in the permanent collection that have been identified within the Inspiring People Missing Narratives research project.
This is an exciting time at the Gallery, as they prepare to undertake our most ambitious capital project since the Gallery’s opening. When the pandemic has moved on we look forward to seeing a clearer picture of women's roles in British history and culture.
May 26, 2020
Olga, Greta and Malalia.
These are the girls, just children, who have each exhibited exceptional foresightedness, courage and civic responsibility. Each has persisted in the face of seemingly insurmountable opposition. They have put some of the world's male leaders to shame. They are the reason that it is important to erect civic statues of women; to remind us all that any woman can make a difference in this world.
The countries with female leaders have been doing better in this year of pandemic. But they are in the minority when it comes to those in positions of power. Just imagine how it might be if there were real equaility in those positions, perhaps we would all be doing rather better. This question of inequality in leadership is one of the reasons that we need more PLINTHS FOR WOMEN. There ia a quiet persistent power in a civic statue that sends a message both now and into the time to come. Let's have more commemoration of the great women of the past to inspire more great women in the future.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/olga-misik-russia-protests-constitution-moscow-riot-police-putin-a9029816.html https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/23/greta-thunberg-speech-un-2019-address https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24379018https://www.euroweeklynews.com/2020/04/16/women-leaders-around-the-world-handling-the-coronavirus-pandemic-better-than-their-male-counterparts/
May 24, 2020
Sarah Chapman, East London
A campaign for a memorial to Sarah Chapman is underway. She was one of the leaders of the Match Girls Strike at the Bryant and May match factory in Bow, East London. Despite being only a young girl and dependant upon her income she was brave enough to strike for better pay and conditions. Sarah is ringed in red in this photo.
The Match Girls’ strike is credited with sparking a social revolution, changing working conditions and labour relations across Britain. It came about because of the ‘white slavery’ practised by the factory owners Bryant & May, who paid ‘starvation wages’ and subjected workers to the horrible health risks of working with phosphorous which caused irreversable damage to the jaws
March 23, 2020
As Marian Wright Edelman said, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’. The lack of a single statue of a real historical woman in any outdoor space in Wales has resulted in a group called Monumental Welsh Women undertaking an ambitious project to get statues of women erected across Wales. In her recent book, Invisible Women, Caroline Criado Perez said, ‘I wasn’t being shown women I could look up to …I wasn’t being taught about female politicians, female activists, female writers, artists, lawyers, CEOs. All the people I was taught to admire were men, and so in my head power, influence and ambition equated with maleness.’ The 'Five Women' mission is to normalise female ambition and success by celebrating and commemorating the achievements of great Welsh Women and inspiring the next generation of great Welsh women. From a shortlist of five candidates for a statue in Cardiff’s new Central Square, an online public ballot conducted by BBC Wales produced a clear winner. Betty Campbell (1935-2017) was the first head teacher of colour in Wales, a Cardiffian and champion of inclusivity who faced and challenged prejudice based on her race, class and gender.
Image Credit: Media Wales
After a trip she took to America, she began teaching children about slavery, black history and the apartheid system which was happening in South Africa at that time. Putting black culture on the Cardiff curriculum, she also taught the children about Harriet Tubman and other civil right activists and the contribution people of colour gave to British society and helped to create the Black History Month. She became a member of the Commission for Racial Equality, and it was through this that Nelson Mandela requested a meet with her on his only visit to Wales in 1998.
Thanks to the generosity of the Welsh government, businesses, organisations, local authorities and individuals, not only is this statue by the immensely talented sculptor Eve Shepherd nearing completion but four others are also planned in different locations. Lady Rhondda (1883-1958) is well known in England as the founder and editor of Time and Tide, a businesswoman, the creator of the Six Point Group and persistent campaigner for women to take their seats in the House of Lords. She was also Wales’ leading suffragette. 2020 also marks the centenary of the birth of Elaine Morgan (1920-2020), television dramatist and celebrated writer of non-fiction including The Descent of Woman (1972) and an advocate of the aquatic ape theory of evolution who was still penning weekly columns for the press in her nineties. Sarah Jane Rees (1839-1916) was a master mariner from West Wales, a national eisteddfod winner known as Cranogwen, teacher, lecturer, preacher and the first woman to edit a Welsh-language women’s magazine. And there is Elizabeth Andrews (1882-1960) who had left school aged thirteen but became a household name in the Rhondda as a champion of the rights of women and children, the first women’s organiser for Wales for the Labour Party, one of Britain’s first female magistrates, and a key figure in the establishment of pithead baths and nursery schools in South Wales.
March 11, 2020
These beautiful underwater sculptures by Jason Declaires Taylor have been widely assigned the meaning of a tribute to the enslaved African people thrown overboard from slave ships. This is disputed by their creator, but is an interesting sidelight on the uses of sculpture in the course of history. There exists a need for the lives of these maltreated people to be acknowledged and honoured and these images speak to that need for reparation for so many of these vile criminal acts.
Update 3/6/20 This need for all of us to be represented seems even more pressing when we see the repeated horror of police brutality to black men in the USA and elsewhere in the world. The killing of George Floyd has sparked a global reaction against such cruelty. In the UK there is only, to my knowledge, one statue of a named black women, Mary Seacole, the Crimean nurse, in London. Apart from her, we have the anonymous 'Bronze Woman', a memorial to the Caribbean community and especially women, in South London. There is a memorial bust of Noor Inayat Khan, Indian Muslim British WW2 Spy in London, and a life-size bronze effigy of the Native American woman Pocahontas, in Gravesend, Kent, where she died on her journey home to Virginia in 1617.
Given this paucity of representation you would be forgiven for thinking that Black Lives Matter has not fully registered in the UK.
March 10, 2020
Art UK - the online home of every sculpture in the UK - has concluded that editing Wikipedia should have more female input. To help women gain access and skills they are running events to increase women's online visibility.
In a recent survey, it was estimated that only 17.3% of Wikipedia biographies are about women, out of 1.5 million biographies. The Wikimedia Foundation also revealed in a 2011 survey that less than 10% of Wikipedia contributors identify as women. This lack of inclusive participation has led to an alarming gap of content in the world's most popular online research tool.
As part of Art UK's sculpture project, they will be co-hosting a series of events to increase the online visibility of women sculptors whose work can be found in UK collections. By hosting Wikipedia Edit-a-thons, they aim to teach individuals how to become beginner Wikipedians and fight the content gender gap.Two upcoming events focusing on women sculptors include:
Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, University of Glasgow Library, Glasgow, Monday 30th September 2019
Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, Paul Mellon Centre, London, Saturday 5th October 2019
Feb. 5, 2020
Back in 2012 Sure Maximum Protection polled Brits to uncover the top ten influential and strong British women that the nation would like to see celebrated for their lifetime achievements. Dame Kelly Holmes topped the vote, with Jessica Ennis the one to watch for future commemoration. Janet Street-Porter commented: “This research shows that successful women – past and present – are completely under-represented when it comes to the number of official statues in the UK. We should look to reverse this trend going forward to ensure influential women and role models such as Dame Kelly Holmes and JK Rowling, as well as stars in their prime like Jessica Ennis, receive the fitting tribute they truly deserve.” To help rectify the balance, Sure Maximum Protection has created a life size statue of Dame Kelly Holmes, who topped the list, and donated it to her hometown of Pembury in Kent, but after controversy about its lack of likeness to Dame Kelly it currently stands in Portman Square, central London.
The poll found that top 10 women Brits would most like to see celebrated with a statue for their achievements are:
1. Dame Kelly Holmes (24 per cent)
2. JK Rowling (22 per cent)
3. Joanna Lumley (14 per cent)
4. Dame Vivienne Westwood (9 per cent)
5. Adele (7 per cent)
6. Katie Piper (6 per cent)
7. Kate Winslet (6 per cent)
8. Karren Brady (2 per cent)
9. Nigella Lawson (2 per cent)
10. Victoria Beckham (2 per cent)
Reported in Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
She was also honoured in Tonbridge Kent, where the figure is said to be a southern 'answer' to the Angel of the North.
Jan. 6, 2020
Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung, Statue of a Girl of Peace (2011). Courtesy of the artists.
Yet again the power of a simple statue has made its mark. There was a political furore over the showing of a statue commemorating the so called "Comfort Women" in Japan. These women were actually enforced sex slaves of the Japanese forces, still uncompensated for thier ordeals.
'Three days after the 2019 Aichi Triennale kicked off in Japan, an exhibition at a museum in Nagoya was shut down after organizers received dozens of threats... over the inclusion of a statue of a “comfort woman,” a Korean woman who was forced to serve as a prostitute, or ianfu, in Japanese brothels during World War II. The subject remains highly controversial in Japan and has been a source of tension between the country and South Korea, which claims that Japan needs to do more to compensate the descendants of the victims of sexual slavery.'
When objections to the inclusion of this statue were raised other Triennieal Artists withdrew their work in solidarity "85 of the nearly 100 participating artists issued a statement requesting that the show be reopened under proper security measures. Ten artists, including Pedro Reyes and Tania Bruguera, also demanded that their own works be removed from the triennial in solidarity with the censored sculptors. A Spanish collector who is creating a permanent home for art that has been censored just made his latest high-profile acquisition. Tatxo Benet bought the sculpture censored from Japan’s Aichi Triennale earlier this month. Ironically, the piece was removed from an exhibition about censored art." The sculpture, which has caused controversy in the past, is now destined for Benet’s planned “freedom museum” in Barcelona, a hub for contemporary art that has been banned or suppressed in countries around the world.
Never doubt the lasting political power of the civic statue.
Nov. 29, 2019
Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in parliament in 1919 and it is only now, 100 years later, that she is finally being honoured in her Devon constituency of Plymouth. The impressive campaign for this statue shows just how possible it is to redress the historic attitudes that choose ignore women's achievements. On their site, the organisers acknowledged that a common response to their efforts was “To be honest with you, we never thought you’d do it,” But they smashed their Crowdfunder target after 89 days when almost 1,000 people together had raised more than £125,000 but, "more than that, they had raised the spirit of a city and beyond." and this kind of community effort does produce more than a monument. This great effort has galvanised a whole community and Great Western Railway has named a train ‘Nancy Astor Express’ – one of GWR’s ‘First Great Westerners.
Theresa May, who unveiled the statue, said Astor had been forced to withstand the jeers and bawdy jokes of male colleagues – and the lack of female toilets – when she arrived in the Commons in 1919, but she had paved the way for future women MPs. Her perseverence has been reflected in the determination of the women of Plymouth to have a memorial of this ground-breaking politician.
Theresa May also said “We don’t have nearly enough monuments to the great women of our past. I’m pleased we’re starting to put that right.” So, it's good to have yet another prominent supporter for the cause of all the inVISIBLEwomen.
Nov. 25, 2019
Mary Clark, suffragette sister of Emmeline Pankhurst underwent great hardship to secure votes for women: imprisonment and brutal force feeding as well as rough manhandling at protest marches. As a result of all these aggressions she died on Christmas Day 1910, the first woman to die for the suffrage movement. She is now, finally, more than 100 years after her death, to be honoured by a statue in Brighton where she tirelessly organised, attended and spoke at meetings and rallies.
It has just been announced that the sculptor will be Denise Dutton, whose work includes both Annie Kenney in Oldham
Annie Kenney in Oldham by Denise Dutton
and the Land Girls and Lumber Jills at the Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Land Girls & Lumber Jills in Staffordshire, by Denise Dutton
The campaign, lead by Jean Calder in Brighton, now has its own website - maryclarkestatue.com - and donations, for what will doubtless be another beautiful statue by Denise Dutton, can be given via the 'localgiving' site.
Jean Calder, Campaign Leader, Terri Bell-Halliwell, inVISIBLEwomen and Denise Dutton, Sculptor
It is a pleaseure to see this campaign, with both popular and all party support, in my own city. Brighton has various named men honoured in statues but apart from the ubiquitous Queen Victoria ( twice! ) no named women. Mary Clarke is a most worthy choice for our first women.
Nov. 15, 2019
image: Plymouth Herald. Lead campaigner Alex Bowater
Only this week I was looking at the 'Mary Anning Rocks' campaign site and was saddened by the fact that, when it was written, there was only one statue ( a bust of Agatha Christie ) to a named woman in the whole of the South West. Today I see that this month there will be a statue erected to Nancy Astor, our first female MP to take her seat in Parliament.
image: Plymouth Herald. Nancy Thomson Head of Metalwork
The campaign held an appeal, launched by Plymouth Women in Business Networking, to fund a statue. Impressively, they raised £131,000 in three months! The aim was to have the statue in place in time for the 100th anniversary celebrations of Lady Astor's election in November this year. It is to be unvieled on November 28th on Plymouth Hoe. In tandem with this new statue a new Intercity Express Train will also be named after the first female MP.
Nov. 12, 2019
Evie Swire, 11 years old, is the inspiration for the 'Mary Anning Rocks' campaign. She is interested in space. She knows she will have to work hard at her STEM subjects and statisticaly girls do well in these subjects at school but when it comes to going on to university and careers in engineering, technology and computer sciences there is a huge decline: girls do not take up these careers. Which begs the question; what role models do they have?
Evie lives in Dorset and in the whole of the Southwest of England - Dorset, Devon, and Cornwall - apart from the stunning new Messenger statue in Plymouth, there is only one example of a statue of a woman who has achieved: a bust to Agatha Christie in Torquay.
The Mary Anning site quotes Marion Wright Edelman, the American rights activist, who said " You cannot be what you cannot see" and it was Evie who asked her mum "Why is there no statue of Mary Anning?" If we do not provide children with images of the women who have been written out of history - as Mary Anning has been consistently written out over the years - then what futures can we expect them to be able to dream of? So, what better way to inspire future generations in STEM subjects than to celebrate the remarkable achievements of this pioneering paleontologist, from a poor working class background who made stunning discoveries that helped change the way we think about the evolution of life on this planet.
Oct. 23, 2019
spotted in the i by Roving Reporter Anne French
This is, of course, a most welcomed statue, being the first of real women in New York's City Park, where until now there has only been the usual patriarchal offering of various angels and nymphs and some fictitious women; Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose and Juliet ( with Romeo), alongside 23 historical men. In the whole of New York city there are only five public statues of real women while there are 145 sculptures of men - the usual insulting gender imbalance.
photo.Central Park.NYC Design Commision
This statue has aroused controversy because it puts these 3 very different women together. Black Activist Sojourner Truth here sits with white Suffragettes Stanton and Anthony who are said to have belittled African Americans and made them stand in the back at rallies. But Stanton’s great, great-granddaughter Coline Jenkins said “ What’s really interesting is as we advance the idea of E Pluribus Unum, out of many we are one, and that’s the beauty that there are many ideas, many methods, many backgrounds that have created a concept of a nation and what we are as people” .
photo Michael Bergmann
It might be said that this unlikely grouping could have been avoided if the Park Commission had had the vision to go for more than a single representation of accomplished women. The statue, by Meredith Bergmann, will be unvieled in August 2020 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
Oct. 9, 2019
When we still have statues honouring the slave traders - such as that of Edward Colston in Bristol and Christopher Codrington, the 19th century slave owner, at All Souls, Oxford - it is only right that we acknowledge the value of the labour, the depth of the indignity and the incredible injustice and cruelty suffered by the enslaved women and men.
There is an urgent petition on change.org because there is no major memorial in England to commemorate the victims of the Transatlantic Slave trade. These are millions of people who were brought over from Africa in ships and kept as slaves. Many of them built Britain, but were subjected to cruelty and forced into inhumane conditions as well as bing torn away from thier homelands.
Memorial 2007, is a charity that is campaigning for an Enslaved Africans Memorial in London’s Hyde Park. The charity has secured planning permission for a space in the Rose Gardens and commissioned statue designs.They need the Government to fund this. Time is running out as planning permission will expire on the 7th November. They are calling on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to fund the first dedicated major memorial to Enslaved Africans before the deadline.
Oct. 9, 2019
Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy worked tirelessly for girls’ education, for women’s right to own property and for their right to vote. She believed in lobbying, took part in marches, gave speeches, and created over 1600 petitions nad wrote 7000 letters. This indomitable woman lived in Congleton in Cheshire and was dubbed, by no less than Emmeline Pankhurst, as ‘the brains of the suffragist movement’. Elizabeth is one of the key activists listed on the Millicent Fawcett statue in Parliament Square in London.
Elizabeth's Group is raising awareness of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, fundraising for a statue of her in Congleton, where she lived fo over 54 years. Without the efforts of groups like this how will we and coming generations have any idea about the sheer resourcefulness, intelligence and persistence that women have deployed over the generations? Without fitting tributes to these pioneers we are diminished by thier absence from our common historic record. They may be present in ( some ) history books - but these are open only to those who can pursue the accademic life - whereas a tribute on our streets gives everyone access to their image and their importance to us as role models. Comemorating women of the past serves to inspire women of the future.