After the casting of thousands of public votes Eve Shepherd has been chosen as the sculptor who will create a statue of RSPB founder and eco pioneer Emily Williamson (1855-1936).
Once an untold story, this is now a story that has captured the heart of the nation and which Eve will bring alive with her beautiful sculptural tribute to Emily.
Over 12,000 people have voted in this final stage of the campaign, with the public having already narrowed down from 24 initial designs to four shortlisted designs, each of which was created into a maquette (miniature statue).
Eve’s striking design is truly captivating; it both encapsulates Emily Williamson the young woman and then, though Eve’s creative genius, reflects her story and her legacy in the ruffles of her crinoline skirt. A look with a closer eye reveals Emily’s skirts are actually a cliff-face punctuated with vignettes depicting the birds once used in Victorian millinery that she campaigned to save.
Eve Shepherd’s most recent work celebrated the achievements of another great woman; educational and equality campaigner Betty Campbell, whose statue was unveiled in Wales in September 2021.
Sculptor Eve Shepherd says, “I’m deeply honoured to be chosen to create the Emily Williamson statue for Fletcher Moss Park, Manchester and the bird loving community. I feel very humbled and privileged to sculpt such an important pioneer and eco-activist. She was an incredible visionary, a quiet, yet stoic woman, who stood against the norms of her day. She co-created a legacy, the RSPB, a charity that has saved countless bird lives and protected precious natural habitats for future generations to enjoy. In my eyes Emily is a shining beacon of how we can save our fragile ecosystem in these unprecedented times.
“Emily Williamson was one of those amazing women who has been forgotten because of her gender. This statue will be a triumph, a milestone, for how far we have come to balance the scales of equality for women within public sculpture, though we still have some distance to go. I am so very delighted and excited to have been selected to be part of this!”
Beccy Speight, CEO of the RSPB, says, “I’m delighted that over 12,000 people took part in the vote to decide this important, timely statue for Emily Williamson. 100 years ago, alongside other determined, inspirational women, Emily successfully campaigned to stop the slaughter of millions of birds for fashion. While the RSPB which they founded has grown and evolved, campaigning is still at the heart of what we do, perfectly illustrated as we took to the UK’s streets during COP26 to demand that world leaders urgently address the nature and climate emergency which threatens wildlife, habitats and humanity itself.
“Eve Shepherd’s glorious, beautifully detailed vision of Emily serves as a reflection to the past, our heritage and the unbreakable bond between nature and people. But crucially, this statue can inspire the next generation, who understand the power and fragility of nature, and will be reminded by Emily’s legacy, that there is always hope, and the fight must continue.”
The Emily Williamson Statue Campaign will be focusing on fundraising activities in the coming months, which will include the release of twenty limited edition maquettes of Eve’s design.
To make an expression of interest email email@example.com Emily’s statue will be unveiled on 17 April 2023 (her birthday) and will stand in Fletcher Moss Park in Didsbury, in the grounds of her former home and from where her campaigning began.