Celebrating women workers – ‘Cracker Packer’ commission

International Women’s Day: press release

Award-winning sculptor from Sussex, Hazel Reeves MRBS SWA FRSA, wins Carlisle commission to celebrate in bronze the lives of women biscuit factory workers – the ‘Cracker Packers’.

The bronze statue, depicting one Cracker Packer from the past and one from the present, will be unveiled in one year’s time, on International Women’s Day 2018. It will be sited near to the McVitie’s biscuit factory (formerly Carr’s) in Caldewgate, Carlisle.

Hazel Reeves said:

“I am inspired by the warm and vibrant stories of the Cracker Packers, past and present. Such stories of working women’s lives rarely make it into formal history yet need to be celebrated and shared with future generations.”

Hazel will work with former and current Cracker Packers to choreograph the pose of the two women factory workers. She said:

“The final statue will have a sense of humour and effuse the warmth and camaraderie of the Cracker Packers – with their help, I hope this becomes a compelling statue loved by local people.”

Jane Meek, Corporate Director of Carlisle City Council, speaking on behalf of the selection panel, said:

“The project attracted a lot of interest from a range of artists across the country. Hazel impressed the panel with her knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject and her ideas captured the spirit of the Cracker Packers.”

pladis, the company that owns the McVitie’s factory in Carlisle, will have a close involvement. In addition to a financial contribution towards the statue, pladis will work with its staff from past and present – to engage them in the story behind the statue.

Mike Heaney, factory general manager, 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 next year.”

A statue of women, by a woman sculptor, goes a small way to redressing the lack of representation of women in public art.

Photos by Stuart Walker at Caldewgate and at McVites/pladis.

Hazel visited the biscuit factory and met with retired and current women staff. Photos include Hazel Reeves, Dorothy Watson, Grace Reibbitt, Jean Burgess, Susan Tinning, Ann Mulholland, Liz Bamber, Dot Reynolds, Christine Milner, Elsie Martlew (former Deputy Leader of Carlisle City Council and former Castle ward councillor).


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