It was such a delight to undertake the commission to celebrate in bronze the lives of women biscuit factory workers – the ‘Cracker Packers’. I’ve been inspired by their warm and vibrant stories. Such stories of working women’s lives rarely make it into formal history yet need to be celebrated and shared with future generations. The statue was unveiled on International Women’s Day 2018. It is sited near to the McVitie’s biscuit factory (formerly Carr’s) in Caldewgate, Carlisle.
I worked with former and current Cracker Packers to choreograph the pose of the two women factory workers, one from the past and one from the present. The final statue has a sense of humour and effuses the warmth and camaraderie of the Cracker Packers – with their help, I hope this becomes a compelling statue loved by local people. The feedback so far has been most warming.
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).
pladis, the company that owns the McVitie’s factory in Carlisle, worked 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.