Sculptor Hazel Reeves has been announced as the designer who will create the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in Manchester, with her striking ‘chair’ design receiving both the public’s vote and the unanimous support of the selection committee.
Andrew Simcock, Chair of the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Campaign, says, “I am delighted for Hazel. Since first meeting her eighteen months ago she has impressed me with her passion for women’s rights and gender equality, her enthusiasm for the project and her willingness to engage in the broader educational opportunities that this project will unlock. We’ve also seen through the public voting process how much her design has touched and connected with people, which is an important part of Emmeline’s legacy.
“I am really looking forward to working with Hazel as we now turn our attention towards the next stage of the project; raising the money required for the creation of the statue.”
Hazel Reeves says, “I feel incredibly privileged to be selected to sculpt my hero, and Manchester’s hero, Emmeline Pankhurst. There was tough competition. The response to my design has been overwhelming; Emmeline as the courageous, determined and dignified activist. In 2019 she will be back on Manchester’s streets, continuing to inspire women to rise up and demand their rights.
“This statue is long overdue, in this city with a rich history of women’s activism. We must thank Andrew Simcock, Helen Pankhurst and the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Campaign for their vision, which is already inspiring others to make visible the amazing women that have been so important to their own towns and cities.”
As the winning designer Hazel will also be developing a programme of community engagement with the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Campaign, which will include educational projects linking to the activities that will be taking place around the one hundredth anniversary of the 1918 Act that gave the vote to women over the age of thirty.
Helen Pankhurst, Emmeline’s great granddaughter, says, “Over the last few months the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Committee met some very impressive sculptors and saw some wonderful ideas take shape. The selection of a single winner has not been easy. Nevertheless, Hazel’s creation has rightly risen to the top. It is memorable and evocative, a simple and yet very powerful evocation of one of the most iconic women in history.”
The statue will be located, subject to planning permission, in the new garden area of St Peter’s Square and will be unveiled on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2019. Of Manchester’s 17 statues Emmeline Pankhurst will be the second female, the other being Queen Victoria, which is where the inspiration for the project began.
Andrew Simcock says, “As a radical city with a history of strong female figures it is wrong that our public art does not reflect this part of Manchester’s heritage. We began by asking the public which female figure they would like immortalised in a statue. They voted overwhelmingly for Emmeline Pankhurst. With the design now also confirmed we are another step forward to seeing our ambitions realised.”
5,850 people voted in the advisory ballot on the design, either having seen the maquettes at one of a number of events, or by viewing them online. 1,815 people visited Manchester Art Gallery to see the sculptures and vote.