Chain reaction! Feminist stunt at Manchester town hall inspires search for second female bronze statue

Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, actress Caroline Aherne or Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington could be immortalised in bronze thanks to the crafty capers of a Manchester crocheting duo.

Artist Helen Davies and historian Jenny White, who make up arts, crafts and heritage initiative Warp & Weft created and hosted the Stature project back in February this year.

It saw the woolly likeness of notable Manchester women superimposed on male municipal statues at Manchester Town Hall to celebrate their achievements.

In response to this East Didsbury Councillor Andrew Simcock has launched a campaign to introduce a second female statue into the city centre.

Manchester city centre is home to just one female monument where Queen Victoria reigns over Piccadilly Gardens.

NORTH AND SOUTH: Author Elizabeth Gaskell

Just 15% of statues across the UK are women, of which the majority represent monarchs or mythological characters throughout history.

Jenny from Warp & Weft told MM:  “We’re really excited by it because we pitched the whole exhibition as ‘craftism’, like the power of fabric and cloth.

“The 15% of statues that are women are mainly depicted as angels with their tops off and their boobs out, giving the idea of a 3D page three model during the Victorian era, which was the Victorian male sculpture’s vision of the passive woman.

“Although Queen Victoria was a big figurehead for the country she was a leader by accident of birth, so it would be great to have a leader who was put up for her own genuine achievements.

“Women’s history can really get side lined and is marginalised in a way. You expect women to have achieved or have done certain thing but it’s not publicised as it should be.

“Whoever is writing the history book – they’re the ones in control of what people nowadays learn.”

The exhibition will be displayed in the town hall once more for one day only on July 30 to allow councillors who didn’t get a chance to see the original show gain a better understanding of the concept.

The final decision as to which female figure is honoured with the statue is down to the public’s vote based on a Manchester City Council shortlist.

LONELY? Queen Victoria is Manchester’s only female bronze statue (©Duncan with thanks)

Jenny added: “I’m also concerned that even in women’s history women from ethnic minorities aren’t recognised as they should be. 

“The councillors could have included race relation pioneers in Manchester likes Louise Da-Cocodia or even Business women like Helen and Lisa Tse.

“I would hope it would generate interests from diverse communities.

“There are so many amazing women to be celebrated, I don’t think that one statue does them justice but something like the Fourth Plinth (in London) where you can have a different commissioner every couple of years and where you could celebrate different female figures would be fantastic.”

INSPIRING: Four crocheted masks

Three of the masks from the Stature Project will be on show in October at Alison Boyle’s Colours, Community and Chemistry exhibition at the People’s History Museum. 

For more information about the exhibition visit

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