The WoManchester Statue Project is about celebrating the significant role that women have played in the city.
In May 2014 the Womanchester Statue Campaign was established by Andrew Simcock to commission a new statue for Manchester to recognise the significant contribution of women to the city’s history. The campaign was prompted by the fact that of Manchester’s 17 statues at the time, only one represented a woman, a monument to Queen Victoria that was erected over 100 years ago, which is situated in Piccadilly Gardens.
From a long list of 20 potential figures, through a series of public events, a shortlist of six finalists was reached, each of whom has made a major contribution to their city including: Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell; anti-racism campaigner Louise da-Cocodia; Manchester’s first female councillor, Margaret Ashton; 18th century entrepreneur Elizabeth Raffald; Labour cabinet minister and leader of the Jarrow March Ellen Wilkinson; and Emmeline Pankhurst.
A public vote commenced in October 2015, when people were given the chance to choose which female icon they would like to see immortalised. Over 5,000 people voted for their favourite and in January 2016 it was announced that Emmeline Pankhurst, ‘Our Emmeline’, would become the city’s next female statue, receiving an overwhelming 56% of the votes.
Submissions for designs for the statue were put forward and six artists were shortlisted by the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Campaign (as the campaign would now be known) before the launch of another public vote to determine who would receive the commission.
Each artist created a maquette (each standing 40cm in height) showing their design, which went on display at Manchester Art Gallery until voting closed on 31 March 2017. In total 5,850 people voted (at the gallery or online) and in April 2017 the chosen artist was announced as figurative sculptor Hazel Reeves whose ‘Rise Up Women’ design was the overwhelming favourite.
On 14 December 2018, the day that exactly 100 years ago the first women had voted in a UK General Election, Our Emmeline was unveiled in a public ceremony that filled St Peter’s Square, as thousands of people gathered for the celebration. Amongst those attending was Emmeline’s great granddaughter, Helen Pankhurst, who supported the campaign throughout.
For further information visit womanchesterstatue.org.