The official unveiling of the statue of Millicent Fawcett, brought together politicians of every hue to witness a woman take her place as an equal alongside 11 statesmen including Winston Churchill and Lloyd George.
Fawcett was a shrewd and tireless campaigner and leader, who resolutely broke down the barriers to women’s suffrage. But this fight for the right to vote was not the work of one woman. Gottlieb worked with Wearing and historians from across the UK on a statue that would reflect the conception and ambition of the women’s suffrage movement. When the black cloth was pulled away to reveal her sculpture, Fawcett was not alone.
The plinth of the sculpture was lined with photographic images of 59 other suffrage campaigners who’d been etched into granite.
As Gottlieb explains, “Women’s history is about movements, it’s about networks, it’s about relationships, political and personal. The plinth’s figures are there to show that no one person can make political change happen.”
So how do you represent a collective struggle in a statue? How do you assess the lives and achievements of hundreds of campaigners to chose 59 individuals? Where do you start?