Embargoed until: Wed 8/3/17,

International Women’s Day

Local woman sculptor wins ‘Cracker Packer’ commission

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.

Hazel Reeves has recently been shortlisted for the Emmeline Pankhurst statue commission for Manchester and is well-known for her seven foot bronze sculpture of Sir Nigel Gresley, proudly displayed at King’s Cross station.


Information for editors

Photographs available on Tuesday 7 March

Further background on the Cracker Packer project

The two figures of the Cracker Packers will be three-quarters life-size, and be standing atop a 90cm diameter bronze Carr’s Table Water Biscuit, embossed with the distinctive Carr’s signature logo.

The total height of the statue and its granite plinth, will be just over one and a half metres (approx. 5ft 4in).

The statue is privately funded, including a contribution from pladis, £65,000 from Sainsbury’s (as part of their development of a Caldewgate new superstore) and £5,000 from Carlisle-born 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.

Background on Hazel Reeves

Hazel Reeves MRBS SWA FRSA is an award-winning figurative sculptor, passionate about people and their stories, with figure and portrait commissions in bronze a speciality, such as her monumental Sir Nigel Gresley statue, unveiled at King’s Cross station April 2016.

Hazel is in the running for the Emmeline Pankhurst statue destined for St Peter’s Square, Manchester. On Monday 27 February her maquette was unveiled, alongside the other five competitors, at an event at the Houses of Parliament. Hazel’s local MP Caroline Lucas came along to give her support to Hazel’s design.

Hazel is on the Council of the Society of Women Artists (SWA), an elected member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors (RBS), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and the sculptor advising the Hove Plinth initiative. For further details see www.hazelreeves.com/biography

Contacts for Hazel Reeves:

Email: hazel@hazelreeves.com

Telephone: 01273 692459, 07817 685638

Home: 36 Luther Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 9XA

Studio: Sussex Sculpture Studios, Epstein House, 1 Daux Road, Billingshurst, RH14 9TF

Website: www.hazelreeves.com

Blog: www.hazelreeves.com/blog

Twitter: @Hazel Reeves

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Hazel-Reeves-Sculptor-107735559277896/

Contact for Carlisle City Council: Sarah Irving, Carlisle City Council Communications,

01228 817150, sarah.irving@carlisle.gov.uk