Press release: 5 March 2018

News release

Statue celebrates Carlisle women workers     

Hazel Reeves’ statue unveiled on International Women’s Day

Carlisle City Council

The countdown has started for the unveiling of a ‘Cracker Packers’ statue in Carlisle, Cumbria on International Women’s Day – Thursday 8 March 2018. The public art not only represents women workers but is also sculpted by a woman.

Hazel Reeves, an award-winning artist and an elected member of the Royal Society of Sculptors, has created the statute – depicting two women McVitie’s factory workers.

Hazel is a well-respected artist. Her Emmeline Pankhurst statue commission for St Peter’s Square, Manchester will be unveiled on 14 December 2018 to mark 100 years since women first voted in a UK general election. Hazel is also renowned for her seven-foot bronze sculpture of Sir Nigel Gresley, proudly displayed in King’s Cross Station.

Privately funded, the Cracker Packer bronze statue will be installed in Caldewgate, Carlisle, close to the pladis factory, home of Carr’s Table Water Biscuits. It depicts two Carr’s factory women workers – one from past times and one from the modern day dressed in their respective factory uniforms. Hazel worked with current and former Cracker Packers to develop the statue, with the support of Carlisle City Council, pladis and Cumbria County Council Archives.

Hazel Reeves said:

“The statue conveys the humour, warmth and camaraderie of the Cracker Packers, past and present. This was only made possible by the generosity of the Carr’s workers who shared their vibrant stories with me. This statue formally marks the importance of these women workers to the factory, to Carlisle and to each other.”

The two Cracker Packers, the name given to workers at the (then-named) Carr’s biscuit factory, will be standing on a bronze Carr’s Table Water biscuit, with the distinctive Carr’s signature logo embossed into it.

The total height of the statue and its base, with granite plinth, is just over one and a half metres (approx. 5ft 4 ½ inches).

Carlisle City Cllr Anne Quilter said:

“We’re delighted that Carlisle will soon have a sculpture of two women workers on public display. Hazel has worked alongside current and retired ‘Cracker Packers’ to create a sculpture that celebrates our city’s female workforce – a fitting tribute to commemorate International Women’s Day.”

The statue is privately funded, including a contribution from pladis, £65,000 from Sainsbury’s (as part of their development of a Carlisle superstore) and £5,000 from author Hunter Davies, who has a keen interest in the history of the McVitie’s site. He wrote “The Biscuit Girls”; stories of six Cracker Packers working in the Carr’s Biscuit factory.

A ‘Spirit of the Cracker Packers’ exhibition, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been drawn together by current and past Cracker Packers with the support of Tullie House and Carlisle City Council. This will tell the stories of the Cracker Packers, their work and the development of the statue.

Mike Heaney, Factory General Manager at the pladis factory in Carlisle, said:

“We are proud that our factory is part of the fabric of the local community, and this commission reflects and celebrates a key element of Carlisle’s distinctive social and industrial history. This public art work will help honour those who have helped shape our town’s history, and we can’t wait for the unveiling this March.”

To find out more about Hazel Reeves’ work, visit www.hazelreeves.com

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Press opportunities:

Cracker Packers Statue – official unveiling:

Thursday, 8 March 2018 (International Women’s Day) – 11am

Land adjacent to Paddy’s Market car park, Caldewgate, Carlisle CA2 5TR

Photo opportunity and interview opportunities including Hazel Reeves, Hunter Davies, the Mayor of Carlisle, Cllr Trish Vasey and representatives from pladis (former and current McVitie’s workers)

Notes to Editors:

Hazel Reeves, an award-winning artist and an elected member of the Royal Society of Sculptors, has created the statute – depicting two women McVitie’s factory workers.

Hazel is passionate about people and their stories, specialising in figure and portrait commissions in bronze. Her Emmeline Pankhurst statue commission for St Peter’s Square, Manchester is underway. She is also renowned for her seven-foot bronze sculpture of Sir Nigel Gresley, proudly displayed in King’s Cross Station.

Hazel’s sculptures have been exhibited in over 60 galleries, museums and sculpture gardens across the UK. She is also a member of the Society of Women Artists and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Before becoming a sculptor, she spent many years promoting women’s rights across the world.

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Further information: Sarah Irving, Carlisle City Council Communications, 01228 817150

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