Thursday, 21 July 2016

The first statute to a woman in a century .............. a Manchester “woman of significance”

Now there is something really exciting about the plan to unveil a statute to Emmeline Pankhurst in Manchester.

Cll Simcock & Helen Pankhurst, 2016
The original idea came from Councillor Andrew Simcock who last year launched a campaign to identify a Manchester “woman of significance” who would be remembered by a statute.

Andrew asked for suggestions and from the list Mancunians voted for Mrs Pankhurst.

And this week the project took another step forward with the invitation of 19 sculptors to a launch in the Town Hall which was also attended by Helen Pankhurst who is the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Between them the 19 have created statues and busts of an array of people including Sir Alf Ramsay, Prince Charles, LS Lowry, Moss Side peace campaigner Erinma Bell, Captain Mainwaring from Dad’s Army, and my own favourite commemorating Sheffield’s Women of Streel.*

Each sculptor will produce a design from which a short list of six will be chosen, and each design will be auctioned at a fundraising dinner next March.

And it is important to stress that the entire cost of the project will be met by voluntary subscriptions and fund raising activities.

As Andrew has said, “fundraising for the statue now begins in earnest as there will be no public money spent on this project. This is particularly important at a time of public austerity and homeless people on the streets.

I would be delighted to hear from any business or individual who would like to sponsor the short listing competition. **

And Andrew has already done his own cycle ride across the country to raise funds.

All of which is consistent with the way that the City has funded public statues over the last two centuries.

The "19" with aAdrew and Helen
What perhaps makes this one a little different is that it is of a woman of whom there are few in the city and more importantly is about the contribution women made to the City.

The original list offered up some fascinating women from Margaret Aston and Mrs Annot Robinson to of course Mrs Pankhurst.

And in the course of the debates about who to choose people explored the lives and contributions of each woman and reflected on their collective role in the history of the City.

Nor will it stop there because during the course of the fund raising there will be fresh opportunities to swop stories and mount all sorts of projects which will culminate with the unveiling of the finished statue in St
Peter’s Square on International Women’s Day 2019.

Picture; the nineteen sculptors, Helen Pankhurst and Cllr Andrew Simcock, in front of the Charlotte Newson portrait of Pankhurst in the Town Hall, 2016 courtesy of Andrew Simcock

* Women of Steel ........... the memorial and a chance encounter with Martin Jenkins,

**Cll Andrew Simcock,

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