Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Female Statues

A final comment about Diana Dors:

The unveiling of the controversial Allison Lapper statue in London in 2005 inspired Germaine Greer to comment “Britain has almost no proper statues of women. Is Swindon's Diana Dors the best we've got?” She makes a valid point, part of a debate that has been ongoing for some time.

Some comments:
  • As early s 1952, a letter to the Times raised the issue of the lack of gender equality in Britain’s statues. Another letter to the Times in 2016 continued this discussion, pointing out that there had been little change since 1952 and that the campaign to have a statue erected to Emmeline Pankhurst remains a challenge. That writer also quoted a ratio of 16 to 1 male to female ratio of civic statues.
  • Germaine Greer’s Guardian article in 2008 described the statue of Diana Dors as ”Britain's one undeniably monumental female sculpture . . . entirely recognisable as a flesh-and-blood woman.”

  • Greer writes that when Marc Quinn’s sculpture of a pregnant Alison Lapper was unveiled in Trafalgar Square in 2005, Ken Livingstone observed that her life was "a struggle over much greater difficulties than the men who are celebrated here", referring to Nelson atop his column, George IV, Sir Henry Havelock and Sir Charles Napier. 
  • Allison Lapper was born without arms and with shortened legs, a condition called phocomelia. She has overcome family rejection, institutionalisation and physical challenges to have a family and to become an artist, using her art to question physical normality and beauty. 
  • Quinn’s marble sculpture of her was on display is Trafalgar Square between 2005 and 2007:
  • A large replica of the statue featured in the 2012 Summer Paralympics opening ceremony:
  • Greer went on to comment that there is a lack of statuary honouring women in the way that men of note are honoured.
  • A website called inVISIBLE women, at:

       looks at the situation and efforts since then. It states
Using the database of the Public Monuments & Sculpture Association Caroline Criado Perez estimates that only 2.7% of civic statues in the UK are actual, historical non-royal women. She concludes that if you are a woman “your best chance of becoming a statue is to be a mythical or allegorical figure, a famous virgin, royal or nude.”
  • That same site notes, as an example, that in the Leeds’ City Square, a statue of The Black Prince astride a horse is surrounded by statues of 4 men of note and 8 statues of women:
The Black Prince, Leeds, by Sir Thomas Brock

Another view.

James Watt, Leeds, one of the 4 historical male figures depicted.

The 8 statues of women surrounding The Black Prince are of eight nameless, symbolic women portraying ‘Times of Day’; dawn, midday, evening etc.

Another view.

Puts the Diana Dors' statue in a different light, eh what?




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