getting attention

Current media coverage, active campaigns, public involvement and creative interventions, in the debate that has been running since at least 1952.

Inspiration

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" - 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.

National Treasure

June 23, 2020

Dame Vera Lynn, who died this month aged 103 has been dubbed “an amazing lady and a national treasure... who can cross the generations and make us all smile at a time of crisis.” Conservative MP Maria Caulfield, who represents Lewes in Sussex where Dame Vera’s home was when she died, said: “Definitely I would support erecting a statue to her". 

After weeks where activists have been trying to pull down pull down statues that personify some of the worst traits in human endeavour, it seems that Dame Vera's legacy is one of comfort and joy. The proposal for a monument has united many people in the country with wide support for it on social media. Former Conservative minister Sir John Hayes also added his voice to the growing calls. “She fully deserves to have a statue erected in her honour and it should be in the heart of London to remind us what a person of high calibre she was.”


Her daughter said a memorial would be "absolutely fantastic," adding that she "did so much and continues to do so much for people, and children and charities". Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said the white cliffs of Dover would be the "perfect place" for a memorial to "recognise Dame Vera's immense contribution".

This proposed statue to Dame Vera would be one that accentuates the positive legacy a person can leave. This is  something it would have in common with virtually every other statue of a women in this country

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-53156061

https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1298680/dame-vera-lynn-statue-uk-tribute-armed-forces

Lest We Forget

June 12, 2020

To remember without glorifying

Protesters pulled down the statue of Colston during a Black Lives Matter march in Bristol on Sunday before throwing it into the harbour. It has now been pulled out. Bristol City Council has confirmed the statue, complete with graffiti and some of the rope used to bring it down, will go on display in the M-Shed museum along with placards from the protest. The team at M-Shed said: “Despite only being in the water for a few days, mud had filled the inside and obscured the evidence of its journey into the harbour.

“We spent the morning removing mud from its inside with a hose and extendable brush.The painted graffiti was particularly at risk from the cleaning so this was done very carefully to ensure it wasn’t washed off. The symbolism of his graffitti’d body has been preserved and the significance it has for us will be an important story to tell"

Statues are being attacked and toppled, and not without cause. There had been ongoing requests, including a huge petition, for the Colston statue on Bristol to be removed. No action was taken - not even the compromise solution of attaching a plaque that admitted the real source of the wealth that he bestowed on the city - the slave trade. The final result was the crowd that pulled it down and threw it in the harbour. Just as so many innocent slaves were thrown to thier deaths from slave ships.

So must it always come to this violent iconclasm? Could we review our public art in a more measured way?

How can we - how could Bristol - in all conscience leave up a tribute to a man in that evil trade? What will happen to the many statues now under scritiny could prove to be a model respnse to the conundrum that faces any society that acknowledges its past mistakes and acts to rectify them. Many suggest that the statues could be placed in museums. That would be useful as long as the entire history surrounding the person and thier legacy is clearly shown, as they plan to do in Bristol. In the case of Colston we not only learn about a key source of wealth of the city  - many fine buidlings have been paid for from these ill-gotten gains - but we also learn how to respond to our growing awareness of issues previously hidden from public scrutiny. This will not be that last time we are faced with this process. Having failed to act before, Bristol could now prove to be a role model.

https://uk.yahoo.com/news/edward-colston-statue-contained-hidden-164445096.html

History's Bad Boys.

June 11, 2020

  

The statue of historical figure Robert Milligan on West India Quay in East London has been removed on public safety grounds. It is feared it will be targetted by protestors because of his connection to the slave trade.  

The statue of the scouting leader, Robert Baden-Powell, in Bournemouth has been associated with facism and a sympathy with Hitler. It is reported to be on a target list for attack and the local authorities planned to move it to safe storage, but several people surrounded it saying it should remain.

  (Dylan Garner/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

In Richmond, USA the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was splattered with paint after it was toppled Wednesday night, And in Antrwerp, Belgium a statue of King Leopold ll, who oversaw an unimaginably brutal regime in Congo that led to the death of millions was taken down for 'public safety' this week.

  

A group of Native American women pulled down the Christopher Columbus statue in front of the Minnesota State Capitol and then danced around it while singing the song of the American Indian Movement. They said "This is to honor our ancestors and the women who started to go missing since Columbus landed."

  

These men, despite their connections with wicked and inhuman practices, have been set up as figures to be admired by a patriarchy that has profited from thier actions. It takes a lot for them to be removed. But awareness of the quiet persistent power of the civic statue is  dawning on the wider consciousness. This awakening realisation of their significance - thier influence - is a chance to redefine how civic statues are chosen. This is a chance for the nation to reconsider who it wants to honour. This time of pandemic has given us a chance to understand who and what it is we really value. There are lots of truly worthy women on the Waiting List.

 

Deeds Not Words

June 9, 2020

In Oxford thousands of people have gathered outside Oriel College to demand the removal of a statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes, a 19th Century businessman and politician in southern Africa, who stood for white supremacy and is steeped in colonialism and racism. Twenty-six Oxford city councillors have asked Oxford University to "decolonise" in a letter saying the figure at Oriel College was "incompatible" with the city's "commitment to anti-racism". The College said it  "abhors racism and discrimination in all its forms". The removal of this statue has been repeatedly requested over the years, as was the case for the Colston statue in Bristol. Let us hope the authorites in Oxford realise that time is up on preserving symbols of oppression and displaying them for students to 'look up to'. This would be the perfect time to canvas students and residents about who they would like to see in a statue. The authorities need only glance at the 'Waiitng List' on this site for inspitration as to who might replace Rhodes. If anti -racism is truly a committment then what is called for now is 'Deeds not Words'.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-52975687

Moving On

June 9, 2020

Today Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced a commission to examine all statues in London with a view to removing those with links to slavery and plantation owners. The Black Lives Matter protests in Bristol and the toppling of the long disputed, deeply disliked statue of Colston have rightly brought this to the public's attention. He said "it's important that we take the right steps to work together to bring change and ensure that we can all be proud of our public landscape... the city’s landmarks – including street names, the names of public buildings and plaques – will be reviewed by a commission to ensure they reflect the capital’s diversity. In an interview on Radio 4 this morning he included women amongst those who should be honoured by more statues. 

The commission - which will be co-chaired by Debbie Weekes-Bernard, the deputy mayor for social integration, social mobility and community engagement, and deputy mayor for culture and creative industries Justine Simons - will include historians as well as arts, council and community leaders.

Surely this must be an initiative that will be echoed everywhere in the country. Now is the time for us all to consider who it is that we will choose to be "looking up to".

                                                                                                                                                        .

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/09/sadiq-khan-orders-review-of-all-london-statues-for-slavery-links

Another Fearless Girl

June 8, 2020

In an article for National Geographic, Phillip Morris wrote:

“A 15-year-old Portland, Oregon, girl named Kellen S. created a Change.org petition called Justice For George Floyd that became the most signed petition in Change.org’s history, with now more than 16 million signatures. Kellen said in an interview that she realized the daunting challenge for people her age to become social leaders in times of great social upheaval and crisis. Her age was actually the asset. She recognized that social media would be the most effective tool to reach teens and spread awareness about police brutality and racism. Now, she has become a sterling example of how young leadership can foment and foster change.”

https://www.change.org/p/mayor-jacob-frey-justice-for-george-floyd

 

Black Lives Matter

June 7, 2020

This statue of Edward Colston has been the subject of constant complaint from Bristolians because of his history as a slave trader. Colston was a merchant in the Royal African Company, which held a monopoly in England in the West African slave trade. During Colston's time at the company it is estimated to have transported around 84,000 African men women and children as slaves. There has been an 11,000-strong petition to have it removed and attempts at adding an explanatory plaque. Today as part of the Black Lives Matter demonstraion in Bristol the statue was brought down and thrown into the harbour.

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In today's Bristol Post Mike Norton wrote "It is a harsh truth, but too many Bristolians have spent too long prevaricating and handwringing about the legacy of Edward Colston. Our city has been in denial for decades about his role - and its own - in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. ...That Colston profited from the exploitation and deaths of thousands of African slaves is not in question. But Bristol has consistently managed to talk itself out of properly dealing with that uncomfortable truth. More than that, Colston has become a metaphor for the city’s own refusal to face up to the fact that much of its very fabric - its buildings, its wealth, its status - comes from the exploitation of human beings. Let’s face it, we couldn't even agree on the wording for a second plaque detailing Colston’s role in the slave trade to sit alongside the statue’s existing one. Even that was left festering and unresolved. And, in all that time, the statue - so increasingly offensive to many Bristolians - stood, as Shakespeare put it, like “patience on a monument, smiling at grief."

It has been the subject of previous protests -

               

"Today, however violent and illegal that some will judge them, it took the direct actions of angry young people to bring an end to Bristol’s prevarication. Their anger has finally forced Bristol to confront the harsh reality of its past in the space of one afternoon. And our city’s future may well be defined by how it reacts to what they’ve done."

There is a quiet persistent power in a statue and that truth has been acknowledged today. This could be the perfect time for Bristol to consider what healing might come from statues that honour the the good work of a diverse range of their people, including some women. At the last count there were 14 men, including Colston -  and one woman - the ubiquitous Queen Victoria. Now is the time to ask all Bristolians who it s that they would really like to be looking up to.

https://blacklivesmatter.com/news/

https://www.invisiblewomen.org.uk/gettingattention/post/143

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/mike-norton-felling-colstons-statue-4202263

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/06/07/edward-colston-statue-pulled-bristol-black-lives-matter-protesters/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Lives Matter

June 4, 2020

 

Jason-Decaires-Taylor

Vicissitudes Jason-Decaires-Taylor

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.

https://www.aaihs.org/from-the-ocean-floor-death-memory-and-the-atlantic-slave-trade/

https://afroculture.net/grenada-underwater-sculptures-in-tribute-to-african-slaves/

Barbara in Blackburn

June 4, 2020

Barbara Castle, that great champion of equality for women will have her statue unvelied in Blackburn on Ocober. Cllr Maureen Bateson, said: “Barbara Castle was a trailblazer for women everywhere. The statue will represent all that she did and will ensure that her memory lives on – inspiring future generations'

Sculptor, Sam Holland, said: “Researching Barbara opened my eyes and heart to the woman herself. Barbara’s arguments, passion and social conscience engaged me but her resilience in pushing through the Equal Pay Act cemented her as my lifelong heroine". The campaign has recently been supported by actor Maxine Peake - known for her roles in Black Mirror, The Theory of Everything and the BBC classic Dinnerladies - as well as director of 2010 film Made in Dagenham, Nigel Cole. It was also backed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Prime Minister Theresa May.

The public donation page is gofundme.com/barbaracastle

https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/18282527.barbara-castle-statue-unveiled-blackburn/

Missing Women

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.

Women and Children First

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/

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/women-power-countries-female-leaders-suffer-six-times-fewer-covid-deaths-and-will-recover-sooner-recession/

Sarah the Striker

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

https://www.matchgirls1888.org/sarah-chapman.

Five Welsh Women in Five Years

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.

http://monumentalwelshwomen.org

 

Hidden Tributes

March 11, 2020

 

Jason-Decaires-Taylor

Vicissitudes Jason-Decaires-Taylor

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.

https://www.aaihs.org/from-the-ocean-floor-death-memory-and-the-atlantic-slave-trade/

https://afroculture.net/grenada-underwater-sculptures-in-tribute-to-african-slaves/

Want to Edit Wikipedia ?

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

https://artuk.org/about/about