Advertisement

Gillian Wearing’s Statue of Suffragist Millicent Fawcett Unveiled Outside Parliament

It’s the first statue of a woman placed in Parliament Square, marking the centenary of women’s right to vote

Gillian Wearing's statue of first female suffragist Millicent Fawcett unveiled in Parliament square, 25 April, 2018. Courtesy: Getty/Dan Kitwood

Gillian Wearing's statue of first female suffragist Millicent Fawcett unveiled in Parliament square, 25 April, 2018. Courtesy: Getty/Dan Kitwood

Gillian Wearing's statue of first female suffragist Millicent Fawcett unveiled in Parliament square, 25 April, 2018. Courtesy: Getty/Dan Kitwood

A statue celebrating the life of the early 20th century leading feminist and women’s suffrage movement campaigner Millicent Fawcett (1847–1929) has been unveiled outside Parliament. Created by the Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing, it’s the first statue of a woman placed in Parliament Square, as well as the square’s first statue to be created by a woman.

Wearing’s statue features a 60-year-old Fawcett, who began campaigning for voting equality from the age of 19, raising a banner that reads ‘courage calls to courage everywhere’. The words have been taken from a speech that Fawcett delivered following the death of the activist Emily Davison, trampled by the King’s horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby. Wearing has also included one of the campaigner’s brooches in the statue, borrowing an original from the Fawcett Society and scanning it.

‘I wanted the monument to be as inclusive as possible and to reflect that many women were involved in progressing the rights of equality, some of whom have never been publicly recognised,’ Wearing commented. ‘It is important to realize the battle for equality didn’t come easily. It was a long, hard, arduous struggle.’

The statue was commissioned following a campaign led by the writer and activist Caroline Criado Perez, who also successfully called for Jane Austen to be included on a GBP£10 note last year. Its unveiling comes as part of the centenary marking the 1918 Representation of the People Act in the UK, which gave certain women over the age of 30 the right to vote (women only gained electoral equality with men in 1928 when all women over 21 years old, regardless of property ownership, were allowed to vote).

Fawcett joins 11 male statues in the square, which include Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, as well as former British prime ministers including Sir Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone. Criado Perez said that she had first noticed the absence of women in Parliament Square while out for a run. ‘When I got to the third man, I thought, ‘Hang on a minute, surely someone has done something about this by now’’, she said, ‘I just couldn’t believe it’.

From the archive: read Jon Ronson on Gillian Wearing, historical fact and the art of documentary film-making.

Advertisement

Most Read

With authors, curators and musicians recently denied entry, the UK is fast painting itself as a cultural pariah
Why does the ‘men’s rights’ guru to the alt-right surround himself with Soviet-era memorabilia, which he doesn’t even...
Alongside a centuries-old collection of Old Masters, Delftware and Chinoiserie, the Devonshires continue to commission...
In a Victorian-era baths in Glasgow, the artist stages her largest performance project to date, featuring a 24-woman...
In further news: UK class gap impacting young people’s engagement with the arts; Uffizi goes digital; British Museum...
Italian politicians want to censor the artist’s poster for a sailing event, which reads ‘We’re all in the same boat’
A newly-published collection of the artist’s journals allows silenced voices to speak
The arrest of the photojournalist for ‘provocative comments’ over Dhaka protests makes clear that personal liberty...
The auction house insists that there is a broad scholarly consensus that the record-breaking artwork be attributed to...
‘We need more advocates across gender lines and emphatic leaders in museums and galleries to create inclusive,...
In further news: artists rally behind detained photographer Shahidul Alam; crisis talks at London museums following...
Criticism of the show at the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest comes alongside a nationalist reshaping of the...
A retrospective at Munich’s Museum Brandhorst charts the artist’s career from the 1980s to the present, from ‘fem-trash...
At the National Theatre of Wales, a performance alive with wild, tactile descriptions compels comparison between the...
There are perils in deploying bigotry to score political points, but meanings also shift from West to East
‘It’s ridiculous. It’s Picasso’: social media platform to review nudity policy after blocking Montreal Museum of Fine...
The first public exhibition of a 15th-century altar-hanging prompts the question: who made it?
Poland’s feminist ‘Bison Ladies’ storm the Japanese artist’s Warsaw exhibition in solidarity with longtime model Kaori’...
An art historian and leading Leonardo expert has cast doubt on the painting’s attribution
How will the Black Panther writer, known for his landmark critical assessments of race, take on the quintessential...
The dissident artist has posted a series of videos on Instagram documenting diggers demolishing his studio in the...
In further news: artists for Planned Parenthood; US court rules on Nazi-looted Cranachs; Munich’s Haus der Kunst...
A mother’s death, a father’s disinterest: Jean Frémon’s semi-factual biography of the artist captures a life beyond...
Jostling with its loud festival neighbours, the UK’s best attended annual visual art festival conducts a polyphonic...
It’s not clear who destroyed the project – part of the Liverpool Biennial – which names those who have died trying to...
Dating from 1949 to the early 1960s, the works which grace the stately home feel comfortable in the ostentatious pomp...
Nods to the game in World Cup celebrations show how dance has gone viral – but unwittingly instrumentalized for...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018