Tomorrow a statue of Mary Seacole will be unveiled in London. Hannah Dunleavy and Karen Campbell tell us more about this project and other women who may or may not be appearing on plinths near you.
Tomorrow, Martin Jennings’ bronze statue of the Jamaican-born nurse who cared for wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War will be unveiled in the garden of St Thomas’ Hospital, London, directly opposite the Houses of Parliament.
It comes after 12 years of campaigning by the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, which raised £500,000 through donations, as well as Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to allocate £240,000 of LIBOR banking fines to the project.
The statue, created by sculptor Martin Jennings, is the first in the UK dedicated to a named black woman.
Lord Clive Soley, Chair of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, says: “The unveiling will be a truly memorable event, and we look forward to finally granting Mary Seacole the acknowledgement she deserves for her selfless support of British soldiers.
“The statue will be a fantastic new landmark on the South Bank providing much needed recognition of the contribution black and ethnic minorities have made throughout British history and a celebration of the UK’s diversity.”
The unveiling will be held in an invitation-only ceremony, where a number of high-profile speakers will address attendees. There will be an opportunity for the general public to view the statue tomorrow from 2pm to 5pm.
A new charity, the Mary Seacole Trust, has also been established to ensure the legacy of Mary Seacole continues to be embraced throughout educational establishments and communities across the UK.
Wollstonecraft is a feminist legend, rockstar and an all-round badass. In 1792, she wrote The Vindication of the Rights of Woman (yes, I did say 1792), an amazingly brave piece of work, setting out her case for equal rights for women.
In it, she suggested girls and boys be educated together and that women be represented in parliament. This was 100 years before the suffragettes people (yes, I did say 100 years). Throughout her brief life, she taught, campaigned, wrote a children’s book, wrote a book on the French Revolution and oh, did I mention she’s the mother of Mary Shelley.
It’s a crime that this woman is not lauded, celebrated and has at least three series on BBC4 dedicated to her but alas, she is still relatively unknown. But writer and journalist Bee Rowlatt is on a mission to change all that. She has written a book, In Search of Mary, about this wonderful creature and spearheads the Mary on the Green project, which is campaigning for a memorial statue of Mary as a visual celebration of her diversity.
Rowlatt says: “When Mary Wollstonecraft demanded ‘Justice for one half of the human race’ in 1792, she was the first person to call for equality of the sexes in the English language. She was the foremother of feminism, an early human rights activist, a key Enlightenment philosopher and an all-round renegade.
“When people hear about her life and legacy they can’t believe there’s no significant memorial to her anywhere! We’ve been campaigning for five years and it’s really taking off so it would be amazing if Standard Issue readers could support us; I think Wollstonecraft would have liked this magazine very much.”
South Yorkshire’s female steel workers
Earlier this month, the Women of Steel statue was unveiled in Sheffield’s Barker’s Pool, with around 3,000 people turning out in person to honour the women who were conscripted to work in steel works all over South Yorkshire during the wars.
More than 100 women who took on the often dangerous and physically demanding work attended the event and were described by Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, as “inspirational”.
She added: “The unveiling of the statue was an incredible event. The atmosphere blew everyone away. We knew it would be a special day, but there were tears and dancing in the aisles.”
The statue was funded by public fundraising which exceeded the £150,000 target, which meant money was left over to issue commemorative medallions to the surviving ‘Women of Steel’ and the families of those who are no longer alive.
A statue of the shoe machinist and mother of six, who was jailed five times for her role in the suffragette movement, is being built in her home town of Leicester.
An anonymous donor gave the £80,000 needed to create a monument to Hawkins after being moved by the film Suffragette.
Hawkins’ grandson, Peter Barratt, says: “The statue will feature Alice but it is in recognition of all the women in the Leicester suffragette movement 100 years ago, to gain a basic human right that that we all have today.” The statue is expected to be finished sometime next year.
Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst is to be celebrated with a new statue in her hometown of Manchester, becoming the first woman to receive the tribute in the city for more than 100 years.
The statue of the women’s rights activist, who was born in Moss Side, is expected to be unveiled on International Women’s Day in 2019.4048 Views
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