First Statue of a Woman to be Erected in Parliament Square

First Statue of a Woman to be Erected in Parliament Square

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Criado-Perez’s campaign kicked off last year with an open letter to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. She called on Khan to erect a statue of a woman in Parliament Square by February 2018, to honor the 100th anniversary of legislation granting limited suffrage to British women. As she wrote, it was a landmark victory, in which “women won the argument that our sex does not render us incapable of participating in the running of our country.”

Criado-Perez, who was also responsible for successfully campaigning to put Jane Austen on the new £10 note, was thrilled with the quick, decisive response. Prime Minister Theresa May also expressed her support, and the choice of Dame Fawcett, stating, “The example Millicent Fawcett set during the struggle for equality continues to inspire the battle against the burning injustices of today. It is right and proper that she is honored in Parliament Square alongside former leaders who changed our country.” The statue will be funded through a portion of the £5m fund set aside to celebrate the centennial of British women receiving limited suffrage.

Fawcett is best known for her work championing the right of women to vote in the United Kingdom. She came from a family of activists and reformers. Her sister, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, was the first known female doctor in Britain.

Fawcett began her suffrage work as a teenager. She wrote, “I cannot say I became a suffragist. I always was one, from the time I was old enough to think at all about the principles of Representative Government.” Fawcett was further inspired after hearing John Stuart Mill introduce a suffrage amendment to a Reform Bill in 1867.

In 1897, Fawcett founded the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS)—the largest organization working for women’s suffrage at the time. She served as president for more than 20 years. Under Fawcett’s directive, NUWSS supported other causes as well, such as the abolition of the British slave trade, and formation of a relief fund for South African women and children during the Boer War. She also championed women’s education, helping to found Newnham College, Cambridge.

The women’s suffrage movement suffered a huge blow when the Liberal government of 1901-1914 refused to give women the vote. The shock and disappoint served as a turning point that saw more militant suffragettes engage in direct action—such as breaking windows and taking part in hunger strikes while in jail. This willingness to resort to violence, however, caused a deep divide in the women’s movement. Fawcett and the NUWSS remained committed to achieving the vote through constitutional means, legal action and nonviolence.

Fawcett herself caused a divide in the NUWSS when she actively supported Britain’s participation in World War I. She explained her support in 1914, writing in the NUWSS journal “The Common Cause,” “Women, your country needs you…Let us show ourselves worthy of citizenship, whether our claim to it be recognized or not.”

Four years later, the “Representation of the People Act” passed, granting limited suffrage to women over 30, who owned their own homes or were the wives of householders, occupied property with an annual rent of £5 or were graduates of British universities.

When Parliament equalized the voting age in 1928, granting the same legal voting rights to women that men already possessed, Fawcett was there to witness the momentous occasion. She wrote in her diary, “It is almost exactly 61 years ago since I heard John Stuart Mill introduce his suffrage amendment to the Reform Bill on May 20th, 1867. So I have had extraordinary good luck in having seen the struggle from the beginning.”

Millicent’s legacy continues today through the women’s rights and gender equality charity, the Fawcett Society. The chief executive, Sam Smethers said, “Her contribution was great but she has been overlooked and unrecognized until now. By honoring her we also honor the wider suffrage movement.”

Who Is Millicent Fawcett? Feminist Activist Honored With First Statue of a Woman in London's Parliament Square

A statue of the British feminist Millicent Fawcett was unveiled in front of the British parliament on Tuesday. It was the first time a state of a woman has been placed in London's parliament square.

The statue was erected to mark the 100-year anniversary of Britain's Representation of People Act, which gave some women the right to vote.

"I would not be standing here today as prime minister, no female MPs would have taken their seats in Parliament, none of us would have had the rights and protections we now enjoy, were it not for one truly great woman - Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett," Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May said about the suffragette during the unveiling of the statue.

The contemporary British feminist writer and activist Caroline Criado Perez had campaigned to have a statue of a woman placed in the square after she noticed that the only historical figures represented there were men. In an op-ed forCNN, Criado Perez said she had launched the campaign despite receiving frequent death and rape threats for her activism.

"Two years and 85,000 signatures later, Parliament Square is on the brink of no longer being a male-only space," Criado Perez wrote about her campaign for the statue shortly before its unveiling.

"The statue will be of Millicent Fawcett, who dedicated her whole life to fighting for women's right to vote. In 1866 at the age of 19 she collected signatures for the first petition demanding female suffrage to be handed into Parliament," Criado Perez continued. "In 1928, she was up in the Ladies' Gallery in the House of Lords watching the Equal Franchise Bill being passed. She died a year later in 1929. Until now, not a single statue of her has existed."

Born in 1847, Fawcett was a well-known feminist intellectual who campaigned for workers' rights and the right of women to vote. She was a suffragist, or a person who believed in campaigning peacefully for women's rights. Debates persist today about whether the suffragists, with their peaceful campaigns, or the suffragettes, who believed in more militant forms of activism, had a larger impact on British society.

In an op-ed for the Guardian, biographer Rachel Holmes argued that the decision to put a statue of a suffragist instead of a suffragette in Parliament Square was disappointing.

"I am far from naive enough to think that the Conservative Brexit establishment would, for example, have countenanced a memorial to the subject of my own current work, Sylvia Pankhurst. Pankhurst was not a suffragist but a full-blown, red-blooded suffragette &ndash complete with the trips to prison and forced feeding also endured by her mother," Holmes wrote.

"I do not wish to downplay the contribution that Millicent made to the suffrage movement, but we should be wary of the conservative history that suggests that it was as, or even more, significant than that of the suffragettes in the struggle to achieve the vote," she added.

U.K.’s Parliament Square Gets a Female Statue. It Only Took 200 Years.

LONDON — After 11 male statues — mostly of white, middle-aged men of aristocratic pedigree — and nearly 200 years, the first female figure was unveiled on Tuesday in London’s historic Parliament Square, the locus of the British establishment.

Hundreds of people, including Prime Minister Theresa May, attended the unveiling of the statue, which depicts Millicent Fawcett, a now relatively unsung hero of the feminist movement who led campaigning for women’s right to vote. The bronze statue, which shows a middle-aged Ms. Fawcett holding a banner reading “Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere,” was installed in part to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage in Britain this year.

“When you think of the great people in Parliament Square, and when you realize that not one of them is a woman, it sort of begs the question,” said the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, whose office agreed to the installation last year after an online petition for such a statue received tens of thousands of signatures. “Are we saying there haven’t been incredible women in the past? That our country hasn’t been built on the back of great women?”

The petition was started by Caroline Criado-Perez, a freelance writer who previously successfully campaigned for an image of Jane Austen to appear on the British 10-pound note, an endeavor that quickly made her a target of online abuse. Gillian Wearing, a Turner Prize-winning artist, created the Fawcett statue, becoming the first woman responsible for a statue in Parliament Square.

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With her hair swept back in a bun and cloaked in an unassuming coat, Ms. Fawcett contrasted with some of her male counterparts on the square, past prime ministers like Benjamin Disraeli and David Lloyd George, who are presented with outstretched hands or flowing robes. The square also features the hunching figure of Winston Churchill, as well as Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Its first statue, of George Canning, another prime minister, was unveiled in 1832.

Ms. Criado-Perez said it was important for Fawcett to be depicted at 50, an age when she became the leader of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, the main suffragist organization in Britain and a largely peaceful movement, unlike the more militant suffragettes.

“I wanted her to be standing there not at all sexualized, but statesmanlike,” Ms. Criado-Perez said.

Women celebrated the Fawcett statue, but questioned how much of a change it represented.

“In a sea of men, it’s one woman standing for all of us,” said Electra Bove, a travel agent, leading a gaggle of Italian high school students around the square. “This is just a gesture with no real meaning, it’s more a token. Still, it’s nice.”

Britain is not alone in still struggling with issues like gender pay gaps and sexual harassment. In the European Union’s latest gender equality table, Britain has made virtually no progress over the past decade in reducing inequality in jobs, income, political engagement or education, lagging behind France and the Scandinavian countries.

Still, Eibhlin Savage, who once worked at Holloway Prison, where hundreds of suffrage campaigners were incarcerated in the early 20th century, said the Fawcett statue was a powerful reminder of work that still needed to be done. “It just shows how far we still need to go,” she said. “We can’t take our rights for granted. They’re not handed to us on a silver plate.”

Ms. Savage and others remarked that women had been largely omitted from the version of history they were taught. Roxie Andrew, 29, admitted she had not heard of Ms. Fawcett until the statue was unveiled. “I just found out about her today,” she said, scrolling through her smartphone. “It’s quite inspiring and privileged to see this here, having a strong figure to look up to. I hope it encourages women to follow their careers.”

There were disagreements over who should have drawn the honor of being the first woman in the square. Some campaigners argued for Emmeline Pankhurst, who split from Ms. Fawcett’s organization, created a more militant group — the Women’s Social and Political Union, who were given the initially derisive nickname of suffragettes — and is better known today.

Britain’s suffragist movement emerged in the late 19th century, as Parliament extended the franchise to an increasing proportion of men while continuing to deny it to women. The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, made up mostly of middle-class women, was formed in 1897, eventually becoming the biggest suffrage organization, with 50,000 members.

Born in 1847, Ms. Fawcett helped found Newnham College, the second college at Cambridge University to admit women. She also supported other causes like the abolition of the slave trade, and led an investigation into British concentration camps in South Africa during the Boer War, camps in which tens of thousands of Afrikaners and black South Africans starved to death.

Ms. Fawcett died in 1929, a year after women in Britain were given the vote on equal terms to men.

Millicent Fawcett to be first woman statue in Parliament Square

The equal rights campaigner who dedicated her life to getting the women's vote, will stand alongside Sir Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.

Theresa May said Dame Millicent "continues to inspire the battle against the injustices of today".

All 11 statues in the central London square are currently men.

The new statue will be funded using the £5m fund announced in this year's spring Budget to celebrate next year's centenary of the first British women to get the vote.

Millicent Fawcett formed the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies in 1897.

The organisation used peaceful tactics to campaign, including non-violent demonstrations, petitions and the lobbying of MPs. Born out of the suffragist movement came the suffragettes - the more radical and militant group led by Emmeline Pankhurst.

Dame Millicent died in 1929, a year after women were granted the vote on equal terms to men.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "It is right and proper that she is honoured in Parliament Square alongside former leaders who changed our country.

"Her statue will stand as a reminder of how politics only has value if it works for everyone in society."

Dame Millicent's legacy continues today through the women's rights charity, the Fawcett Society.

Welcoming the announcement, chief executive Sam Smethers called it a "fitting tribute".

"Her contribution was great but she has been overlooked and unrecognised until now. By honouring her we also honour the wider suffrage movement," she said.

Ms Smethers also acknowledged the work of activist Caroline Criado-Perez, who launched the campaign for a suffrage statute.

"This statue is also a tribute to her and a testament to what one woman can achieve on behalf of all women," Ms Smethers said.

Writing on Twitter, Ms Criado-Perez said: "Delighted with such a decisive response from (the prime minister) to our campaign.

"Huge thank you to everyone who supported the campaign from the beginning."

Author JK Rowling and actors Emma Watson and Naomi Harris were among those who signed an open letter to London mayor Sadiq Khan in May last year, calling on him to erect a statue of a suffragette.

One hundred years ago Britain passed the Representation of the People Act which gave certain women over the age of thirty the right to vote. Women, and some men, had fought for years for suffrage equality but it took until towards the end of World War One before this was achieved.

This week a statue was unveiled of the suffragist campaigner Millicent Garrett Fawcett in Parliament Square, London. This is significant because it is the the first representation of a woman in this male dominated arena, (it is surrounded by statues of male political figures including Churchill, Lloyd George, Mandela and Gandhi), and secondly because this year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the first glimpse of female suffrage equality. Of course, at the time there were limitations to women voting, not least, they had to be property owing, but it paved the way for full suffrage ten years later. Millicent Fawcett lived to see this, she died one year later.

The statue, the first of a woman in Parliament Square, was designed by Turner Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing, the first woman to have a statue erected in Parliament Square. The 8 foot 4 inch bronze is one of only 3% that represent non-royal women in Britain.

Caroline Criado Perez campaigned for a statue to be erected, fittingly, her inspiration for the statue arrived after running through Parliament Square on International Women’s Day in 2016 and noticing the gender imbalance for the first time.

The statue itself is worthy of its place a stone’s throw from the Palace of Westminster and the heart of Government. I’d seen a picture from an online newspaper earlier in the week and wasn’t impressed. In ‘person’ it is outstanding. It’s life-like, the fabric of Fawcett’s costume looks real and not part of the casting and juxtaposed with the other greats of national and global politics it is a testimony to Fawcett’s quiet diplomacy and reason which contrasted sharply with the Pankhurst females’ militancy.

The statue bears the words ‘Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere’, words that Fawcett spoke about suffragette Emily Wilding Davison some time after her death reminding us that the fight for the vote was brutal.

Statuary of feminist icons are few and far between and the statue’s unveiling was attended by women from Britain’s political parties including Prime Minister Theresa May, whose speech acknowledged that without women like Fawcett there would be no women in politics today.

If you want to read my post about the death of Emily Wilding Davison click here.

First Public Statue of a Woman in London

I find it fascinating the random bits of information you discover when researching London’s history. Last year I had taken some photos of the cluster of memorials in the centre of Waterloo Place, just north of Pall Mall. They perhaps give the impression of a cluster erected at the same time, commemorating aspects of the Crimean War, however they are from different centuries, parts were very controversial at the time, and in 1915 newspaper reports of an addition to the cluster reported that it included “The First Public Statue of a Woman in London” – other than those of Royalty, such as Queen Ann or Victoria.

It is an interesting statement from 1915. Firstly that even with the Victorian love of statues, there had not been a statue of a woman (apart from the many statues of Queen Victoria), and secondly, that it was an event that newspapers recorded, perhaps an early indication of changing attitudes, however reports were just a statement of fact and there was no further discussion.

Statues often seem to generate polarising views, the latest example being the sculpture by artist Maggi Hambling for Mary Wollstonecraft at Newington Green which was unveiled last year, and those in Waterloo Place were equally controversial at the time. They also signify events and people who were considered important at the time, and views change over time.

The following photo shows the cluster of statues in Waterloo Place, viewed from across Pall Mall, from the southern section of Waterloo Place.

The cluster is facing to the south east, so the best view is after walking up the steps from The Mall and through the lower part of Waterloo Place. Regent Street St James’s is directly behind the group, leading up from the north western side of Waterloo Place towards Piccadilly.

A closer view of the cluster of statues on their island location:

Although the cluster of statues may give the appearance that there were part of a single installation, there were fifty four years between the central monument (1861) and the two statues at the front of the cluster (1915).

The “First Public Statue of a Woman in London” is one of the statues installed in 1915, and I will come to these later in the post.

The central monument is the Guards’ Memorial and was erected in 1861 as a memorial to the 2,162 soldiers of the Brigade of Guards who had lost their lives in the Crimean War. It was the work of the sculptor John Bell, who was also responsible for the 1856 marble Crimean memorial in Woolwich and the “America” group on the base of the Albert memorial.

The current location of the memorial was the third option, after sites in Hyde Park and St James’s Park had been considered.

At the top of the monument is the figure of Honour, standing with outstretched arms.

Below the figure of Honour are three soldiers dressed in full marching uniform representing the Grenadier, Coldstream and Fusilier Guards.

The figures were cast at the Elkington and Co. foundry in Birmingham and they were made from guns taken from Sebastopol in the Crimea. The old guns were broken up at Woolwich, then sent to Birmingham.

One hundred tons of granite was used for the pedestal and surrounds of the monument. The granite came from the Cheesewring quarries in Cornwall.

The Illustrated London News on the 13th April 1861 was very scathing about the new monument:

“The Guards’ memorial as it now stands before us, must be confessed to be an eyesore, and an obstruction of the public view of one of the most agreeable outlooks which our crowded thoroughfares afforded and suggests the absolute necessity of some provision being made in this ‘testimonial’ age to prevent our streets and squares being blocked up in all directions with unsightly effigies to departed worth, however honourable the sentiments which may lead to their construction.

As a work of art this memorial is almost beneath criticism. It may be said of it with perfect truth that it is unique nothing like it has ever been seen – nothing else like it, we trust, ever will be seen. It is neither sculpturesque nor architectural, nor jointly both. A heavy, irregular structure of granite is the principal object, filling up a considerable area in the roadway.

Independently of the hideousness of the granite pile, the arrangement of the figures outrages all accepted rules of artistic treatment, That of ‘Honour’ is the only one which can be seen from all sides, but from her attitude it is obvious that it is only intended to be viewed from the front its character and vocation being problematical from all other parts, sometimes suggesting the idea to the irreverent multitude of a street acrobat throwing his four rings. The guardsmen can be seen only from the front – not the front facing the public thoroughfare, but that facing the vacant space between the Athenaeum and United Service Clubs, where nobody goes, except on purpose”.

The Illustrated London News article continues in a similar vein for several more paragraphs – they really did not like the new monument. These views were common across many other newspaper reviews of the Guards’ Memorial, for example, from the Illustrated Times on the 4th May 1861:

“Our monuments are unfortunate. In the vacant space between the Athenaeum and the United Service Clubs in Waterloo-place, stands the ‘Guards’ memorial’ and it may be doubted whether anything more incongruous in design can be discovered in the metropolitan streets. The principal figure – if the figure of ‘Honour’ which surmounts the pedestal may be called the principal when the others consist of three massy Guards in their great coats and bearskins – although it may be well proportioned, stands at an attitude at once ungraceful and dubious, while the wreaths which adorn the hands and wrists are held out as though they were a species of circular dumb-bell of considerable weight, and requiring some muscular exertion to extend at the requisite angle.

It is painfully evident, too, that the whole monument is only intended to be seen directly from the front – a fatal mistake in street sculpture, and one which utterly disfigures one thoroughfare for the sake of another,

With respect to the pedestal, it is like nothing in the world, and the palpable ill-combination of sculpture and building (not architecture) has an effect absolutely painful”.

Criticism of the monument was not just limited to the sculpture, plinth and setting, but also how the inscriptions were written. From The Atlas on the 24th November 1860:

“Unfortunately, as though to convince the world how necessary are competitive examinations, the military committee have drawn up inscriptions, in which the laws and maxims of the English language are violated and by which a great scandal has been proclaimed against the heroes of the Crimea. ‘To those who fell by their companions.’ In aiming at the epigrammatic, the author has descended in nebulas infernas. Would it have been too much trouble to have added ‘by the side of’, and thus saved the honour of those to the memory of whose glorious achievements this monument forms a cruel though unintentional charge?”

There were even questions in the House of Commons regarding the text on the memorial:

“Mr JAMES asked the First Commissioner of Works what was the meaning of the figures inscribed on the Guards’ memorial in Pall-mall, which seemed to mix together the masculine and neuter gender.

Mr COWPER sad the inscriptions were temporary, and could be removed. Perhaps the remarks of the hon. gentleman would be useful to the gentleman who had charge of that monument”.

Those responsible for all aspects of the Guards’ memorial must have been thoroughly depressed after reading all the newspaper reviews which seem to have been highly critical of all aspects of the new memorial – design, architecture, construction, location and inscriptions.

Many of the criticisms regarding the location of the monument were about the direction that the main figures of the monument were facing. The longer approach to Waterloo Place is along Regent Street St James from Piccadilly, and this approach road offers a view down to the location of the monument, however it is the rear of the monument we see from this approach.

The following photo is a view of the rear of the monument. Colours look a bit weird as the sun behind the monument caused the detail to be too dark so some extreme processing was needed.

The plaque on the rear of the monument states “To the memory of 2162 Officers, Non-Com Officers and Privates of the Brigade of Guards who fell during the war with Russia in 1854, 5, 6. Erected by their comrades”.

The side panels on the monument are shields recording the names of battles at Alma, Inkerman and Sebastopol.

Plaque recording how the monument was funded (which strangely states that it was erected in 1867 despite all newspaper reports of the Guards’ memorial being in 1861):

This is the view from alongside the monument, looking up along Regent Street St James towards Piccadilly, and illustrates why those writing when the monument was completed in 1861 claimed that it was facing the wrong way as when travelling down this street, you would see the rear of the monument.

Base of lamp post, installed at the same time as the Guards’ memorial.

After unveiling in 1861, the Guards’ memorial stood in Waterloo Place alongside Pall Mall, exactly as designed by John Bell, however changes were to come and in 1914, the Guards’ memorial was pulled down and re-erected 30 feet north of its original position, to allow the installation of two new statues.

The change in position can be clearly seen in these before and after Ordnance Survey maps (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’).

Which means that we can finally come to one of the two new statues that was described in the newspapers of 1915 as the “First Public Statue of a Woman in London” – the statue of Florence Nightingale:

Florence Nightingale came to public prominence with her work in the Crimea and at the military hospital at Scutari. The conditions for wounded soldiers taken to military hospitals were appalling and more died of disease than on the battlefield.

Her work, along with the rest of her team of nurses in the Crimea would greatly improve conditions for wounded soldiers, and she is credited with turning nursing into a profession, and following her return from the Crimea published “Notes on Nursing” in 1859, and was instrumental in promoting the training of nurses and the better design of hospitals for the rest of her life.

The proposal for a statue of Florence Nightingale was made at a public meeting in the Mansion House in March 1911. At the same meeting it was also proposed to create a fund that would give annuities to trained nurses who had been unable to provide for old age or infirmity. A total of £4,000 was provided for the creation of a Trained Nurses Fund and six nurses were immediately identified as needing help.

The funds were mainly raised by many small donations from nurses, soldiers and sailors.

The panel on the front of the pedestal shows Florence Nightingale standing at the doorway to a hospital as wounded soldiers arrive.

The new statues were unveiled with very little ceremony. On a chilly February morning in 1915, two workmen put a ladder up against the statue to pull of the covers:

Newspaper reports of the Florence Nightingale statue were much more appreciative than those of the original Guards’ memorial. A typical syndicated newspaper report from the 24th February 1915 read:

“A NATION’S GRATITUDE – BRITAIN PAYS HONOUR TO FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE. Without ceremony the statue raised to the memory of Florence Nightingale will today be privately unveiled. The event is of special interest at a time when the sailors and soldiers, fighting for the country’s very existence, are reaping the fruit of the great work set on foot by Florence Nightingale. The statue has been erected in Waterloo Place, London, by the side of Foley’s statue of Sidney Herbert, with the Crimean Guards’ memorial a few yards in the rear, the whole forming an interesting and imposing group.

It was the suggestion of Lord Knutsford that Florence Nightingale’s statue should be placed alongside that of the man through whose instrumentality she undertook her great Crimean mission and by whom she was supported, and that two figures prominently associated with the Crimean War should be brought into close proximity to the Guards’ memorial”

There were however some negative comments about the low-key way in which the statue was revealed. A typical letter is from a Mary E. Pendered in the paper “Common Cause” (a weekly paper that supported the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies):

“MADAM – I was truly astonished to see your acquiescence in the insult to Florence Nightingale, for it was surely an insult to that great woman to let her statue be unveiled at 7.30 a.m. by a workman and not only to her, but to all the nursing profession which she founded, if not to womanhood in general. There could have been no better time to raise as demonstration of the national homage to one who served her country so splendidly than the present, when our nurses are so valiantly doing their duty at the front, and are acknowledged by all the world as a valuable part of the army’s organisation. It is amazing and it is enraging to find that such an opportunity as this should have been missed”.

Inspecting the new statues in April 1915, a couple of months after they were unveiled:

The second statue unveiled early the same morning in February 1915 was the one on the right in the above photo, a statue of Sidney Herbert:

Sidney Herbert, or 1st Baron Herbert of Lea was the Secretary of State for War during the Crimean War.

He had known Florence Nightingale when along with his wife Elizabeth, they had met in 1848 whilst travelling in Italy. Elizabeth Herbert was one of the governors of the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Illness where Florence Nightingale had her first professional nursing job.

Following growing public anger at the conditions of military hospitals in the Crimea, Sidney Herbert commissioned Florence Nightingale to go out to the Crimea and lead nursing efforts.

Herbert’s statue was originally installed in front of the War Office in Pall Mall, however following the demolition of the building, it was relocated to stand adjacent to that of Florence Nightingale within the overall Crimea memorial cluster.

The plaque on the plinth of Sidney Herbert’s statue again shows an image of Florence Nightingale standing in the door of a hospital watching over wounded soldiers.

The claim that this was the first public statue of a woman in London was made in numerous newspaper reports in 1915 (apart from Royalty), the reports were not syndicated (an early version of cut and paste the same report into different newspapers), so many different papers made the same statement in their own words.

After this post was published, I received a comment from Joanna Moncrieff of Westminster Walks that the first was actually a statue to Sarah Siddons at Paddington Green, and that her statue was unveiled in 1897, which would put it 18 years earlier than Florence Nightingales statue.

No idea why the 1915 papers made the claim regarding Florence Nightingale’s statue. Perhaps they were unaware of the Siddons statue, or perhaps they considered Paddington Green as outside central London, the City to Westminster area.

One hundred and three years later, it is still unfortunately a headline when a similar event occurs and in 2018 a statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett was unveiled as the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square.

I photographed the statue with the continuous flow of people wanting to see and photograph the statue soon after unveiling.

In a link between Florence Nightingale and Millicent Fawcett, the statue of Florence Nightingale was a focal point for the suffragist movement. In May 1915, the suffragist newspaper Votes for Women included the following article:

“Wednesday in this week being the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday, an interesting little ceremony, arranged by the Women’s Freedom League, will take place that afternoon after we go to press. Some ten or twelve Suffrage Societies are sending representatives, including Mrs Ayton Gould from the United Suffragists, to lay wreaths on the newly-unveiled Florence Nightingale statue in Waterloo Place.

Owing to the somewhat incomprehensible opposition of the authorities to any demonstration in memory of a woman whose name should be revered in every British family just now (which led to the secret unveiling of her statue by a workman at 6 a.m. on a wet winter’s morning), no speeches or procession will be allowed.

But perhaps this silent tribute to her memory will not be out of keeping with what we know of this great woman’s hatred of publicity and the speeches will be made afterwards in the Essex Hall at 8 p.m. where a meeting will be held, also under the auspices of the W.F.L, who are to be congratulated on having arranged this commemoration as so appropriate a moment in our history”.

If you are ever in Waterloo Place, take a look at the Crimea memorial complex, and consider the difficulties in designing a monument and getting the location right, along with the sacrifices of those who died in the Crimean War.

Also appreciate that after Sarah Siddons, you are looking at what should have been reported in the papers of 1915 as the “Second Public Statue of a Woman in London” – unless you know any others?

Are statues really that important though? Well, yes, actually.

Over the last few years, important questions have been asked about who should and shouldn't be commemorated in such a celebratory way.

At Oxford University's Oriel College, an ongoing battle between students and university leaders has focused on a statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Many have called for the statue to be removed as part of a "decolonisation" of educational institutions.

Officers clash with counterprotesters after the Ku Klux Klan staged a protest on July 8, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee.

Last year race riots were sparked in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the planned removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E Lee.

White supremacists violently opposed the removal of the statue of Lee, a member of one of the wealthiest slave-holding families in the 19th century, arguing that it censored history.

Gillian Wearing Survey by Russell Ferguson, Interview by Donna De Salvo, Focus by John Slyce, Artist's Choice text by Michael Apted, Writings by Gillian Wearing

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British artist Gillian Wearing, winner of the 1997 Turner Prize, uses photography and video to explore the intimacies and complexities of everyday life. Borrowing from popular culture, her work is disturbing and confessional. In 1992 she began the acclaimed series Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants them to say', in which random passers-by are photographed holding messages they've written, such as the mild-mannered young businessman whose sign unexpectedly reads 'I'm Desperate'.

Wearing's work borrows from familiar forms of popular culture to produce direct, revealing records of deep-seated human trauma and emotion, often adopting the methods of television documentaries for her 'fly-on-the-wall' view of people's lives. Her videos can be alarming, as in Confess All . in which masked individuals confess their darkest secrets, or humorous, as in (Slight) Reprise - a sampler of adults playing 'air guitar' in the fantasy rock stadium of their bedrooms. Her art can be disconcerting or uplifting: an honest portrait of the many sides to contemporary life.

With exhibitions in Britain, the US, Europe and Japan, Wearing is among the best-known and most internationally recognized of the recent generation of British artists. This is the first publication ever to survey this remarkable young artist's gripping work in its entirety.

Russell Ferguson of UCLA's Hammer Museum contextualizes Wearing's work in relation to historical precedents in painting, photography and video art. Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art Donna De Salvo discusses with the artist her collaborative approach towards her work and its subjects. London-based critic John Slyce focuses on Wearing's work 10-16, a remarkable video installation that charts our transition from childhood to adolescence. The artist has selected transcripts from director Michael Apted's acclaimed British television documentary series Seven Up, an important influence on the process Wearing uses in her own work. Published here for the first time in full are the transcripts of the artist's video works.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Size: 290 x 250 mm (11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in)
  • Pages: 160 pp
  • Illustrations: 120 illustrations
  • ISBN: 9780714838243

Russell Ferguson is Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs and Chief Curator at the University of California, Los Angeles, Hammer Museum. He edited Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object 1949-1979 (1998) and Douglas Gordon (2001) and has published in international journals such as Parkett and art/text.

Donna De Salvo is Associate Director for Programs and Curator, Permanent Collection, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Formerly Senior Curator at Tate Modern, she has curated exhibitions on Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol and Anish Kapoor, among others.

John Slyce (Focus) is a freelance writer on contemporary art who specializes in the young British scene.

On the Contemporary Artists Series

"The boldest, best executed, and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about."—Artforum

"The combination of intelligent analysis, personal insight, useful facts and plentiful pictures is a superb format invaluable for specialists but also interesting for casual readers, it makes these books a must for the library of anyone who cares about contemporary art."—Time Out

"A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists."—The Sunday Times

"Gives the reader the impression of a personal encounter with the artists. Apart from the writing which is lucid and illuminating, it is undoubtedly the wealth of lavish illustrations which makes looking at these books a satisfying entertainment."—The Art Book

Millicent Fawcett 'Should Be Given Statue In Parliament Square' On 150th Anniversary Of Women's Vote Petition

Campaigners are calling for the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square to be of famous suffragist Millicent Fawcett.

On the 150th anniversary of the first petition to Parliament for women to have the vote, Caroline Criado-Perez will explain why Fawcett is the perfect choice to be memorialised in front of the Houses of Parliament.

Speaking at an event hosted by gender equality charity the Fawcett Society, named after Fawcett herself, in the Speaker&rsquos House State Rooms, she will say: " Millicent Fawcett was there from the very beginning of the fight for women&rsquos suffrage.

"At the age of 19 she organised signatures for the first petition for women&rsquos votes to be handed to Parliament. She died the year after women were finally granted equal voting rights in 1928.

"It&rsquos shocking that she doesn&rsquot already have a statue of her own &mdash and Parliament Square is the obvious place for her to be. Not round the corner, or up the road. Nothing less than Parliament Square will do."

Fawcett, a writer, feminist and union leader, was best known for her tireless work in helping women to finally win the vote.

She worked alongside the Suffragettes, who used their own distinct tactics, to navigate the case for women's suffrage through Parliament.

She led the the constitutional campaign for women&rsquos votes from 1866 until universal suffrage was finally won 62 years later in 1928.

She famously collected signatures on the first petition but was too young to sign it herself.

Fawcett died in 1929, the year after finally achieving her aim and was honoured by the naming of the Fawcett Society in 1953.

Also backing the campaign is historian and presenter of the Ascent of Woman TV series, Dr Amanda Foreman, who will also be delivering the Millicent Fawcett Memorial Lecture on 6 July.

She said: &ldquoMillicent Fawcett is one of the most important women in British history and it is vital we commemorate her work. It is because of Millicent and the thousands of suffragists and suffragettes who campaigned with her that women have the vote. Millicent Fawcett deserves a statue in her honour and she deserves it now."

Also supporting is Lord Daniel Finkelstein, who first called for a statue of Millicent Fawcett in his Times column last year .

He commented: "I am hugely excited by Caroline's campaign. Millicent Fawcett is one of the greatest of all the pioneers of British democracy. She deserves a statue in Parliament Square and it is quite wrong that all the statues there now are of men."

Earlier this year, a host of high-profile women including Emma Watson, JK Rowling, Sandi Toksvig, Stella Creasy and Jess Philips signed a letter to the new Mayor of London asking for a statue of a Suffragette to be erected in Parliament Square.

It points out that there are 11 statues of men in the square outside the Houses of Parliament - including Sir Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and Nelson Mandela - but not a single woman.

MPs Jess Philips, Caroline Lucas and Stella Creasy signed the letter, along with as actors Emma Watson, Naomi Harris, Amanda Abbington and Frances Barber.

Also involved are Harry Potter author JK Rowling, columnist Caitlin Moran, comedian Bridget Christie, Channel 4 journalist Cathy Newman, TUC secretary general Frances O&rsquoGrady and musician Alison Moyet.

The accompanying petition, started by Criado-Perez, has so far been signed by almost 75,000 people.

In response, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's representative said: "The Mayor has said he will be a proud feminist in City Hall and is committed to breaking down barriers to success for women and full gender equality.

"He believes that the Suffragette movement was a key milestone towards achieving this goal, which should be commemorated. There are of course certain practical issues to consider, but he is keen to explore a suitable high-profile site for a statue, whether this is in Parliament Square, or another high-profile, appropriate location in central London."

Related stories

Poised to see her Bronze Woman sculpture idea come to fruition, she launched ‘The Bronze Women Project’, and with the help of OLMEC, a BME-led social enterprise charity, she raised £84,000 (now $108,000) funding and found the sculptors and a location for the statue. Sculptor Ian Walters, who created the Nelson Mandela statue in Parliament Square, designed the initial model of the statue. Following his death in August 2006, Aleix Barbat, a prize-winning sculptor, completed the project.

The Bronze Woman statue was erected in Stockwell Memorial Gardens on October 8, 2008, and it coincided with Black History Month. It also marked the 60th Anniversary of the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush to Britain (scores of its British-Caribbean passengers settled in the Stockwell area where Nobrega was) and the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

Prominent women of Caribbean origin including Nobrega, contemporary artist Anissa Jane, Baroness Rosalind Howells OBE and entrepreneur Sonita Alleyne, OBE, stood in a circle around the statue as it was unveiled. Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC, Britain’s first woman attorney general, who performed the keynote speech, said the statue is important not only for the black community but “for all the people of the United Kingdom to acknowledge the past and the values we share and to acknowledge how much we owe each other.”

“The Caribbean – its past, present and future – is a subject very close to my own heart and I was delighted to be part of this tremendous celebration,” she said.

Today, the 10ft high statue, which sits on a small triangle of land a three-minute walk from Stockwell train station, represents many things. Becoming the first statue of a black woman to be displayed publicly in England, The Bronze Woman symbolizes the struggles and survival of the ancestors of African-Caribbean women and the contributions of all Black women, particularly those in the Caribbean community.

Essentially, the monument serves as a tribute to the diverse communities that make up British society while celebrating womanhood. Seeing the strong image of a confident woman gazing into the eyes of a baby shows the bond between a mother and child. That bond is one of hope, telling the world that all will be well.

Though Nobrega, the brainchild of the statue, is no more, many, including her son, are proud of her legacy. “She believed that all our women are heroines striving for the upliftment of the next generation, not only the outstanding women, but ALL women were heroines,” said Bruce Nobrega of his mother.

Watch the video: Emmeline Pankhurst