Still life

Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst is set to be commemorated with a statue in Manchester

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Hazel Reeves has been named as the artist who will create a statue of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in Manchester’s St Peters Square.

Reeves’ design beat five others yesterday (4 April) after their maquettes – preliminary models – were displayed at Manchester Art Gallery and voted on by the public.

The competition was intended to go some way to correcting a huge imbalance in the representation of women in Manchester’s statues.

Fifteen out of 16 statues in Manchester city centre are of men – the exception being Queen Victoria in Piccadilly.

Pankhurst topped a list of candidates for the statue that also included women’s rights campaigner Marie Stopes and the late Caroline Aherne, comedian.

Pankhurst is being recognised for her dedication to women’s rights. She was born in 1858 in Moss Side and shocked the country with the protests that eventually led to women winning the vote – from setting fire to post boxes to smashing windows.

She was arrested three times and participated in hunger strikes. She died in 1928 shortly after women were granted an equal voting rights to men.

The statue will be unveiled on International Women’s Day in 2019. “I feel privileged to be selected to sculpt my hero,” said Reeves (pictured, right).

Her winning design is Pankhurst standing on a chair addressing a crowd. Reeves said she is excited that “in 2019 Pankhurst will be back on Manchester’s streets urging women to rise up and demand their rights, use their vote and their voice”.

Anne Ryan from Manchester’s Women’s Equality Party said the statue is long overdue and that “it’s something little girls can look up to”.

There is a growing interest in restoring the female-to-male balance in statues in our country with suffragette Millicent Fawcett set to become the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square.

Reeves is also celebrated elsewhere in the country for sculpting pioneering women. In March 2017 she was commissioned to commemorate the lives of women biscuit factory workers with a statue. She designed The Cracker Packers from the Carr’s factory in Carlisle, which will be unveiled on International Women’s Day 2018.

“As an artist I really want to address the imbalance of woman in public art,” she said.

Andrew Simcock, chair of the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Campaign, said he was looking forward to working with Reeves as they now “turn their attention towards the next stage of the project – raising the money required for the creation of the statue”.

No public money has been dedicated to the statue.

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Interact: Responses to Still life

  • Anne Ryan
    17 Apr 2017 14:54
    Thanks for covering the announcement and for mentioning a the Women's Equality Party who are working to build on Our Emmeline's legacy!

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