Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy Statue, Congleton, Cheshire
Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy (1833-1918), was my kind of feminist. She lobbied for equality throughout her life, working tirelessly for girls’ education, for women’s right to own property and for their right to vote. Emmeline Pankhurst dubbed her ‘the brains of the suffragist movement’. She lived in Congleton, Cheshire. The Elizabeth’s Group was formed to raise awareness of her national contribution to women’s rights and commissioned me to tell her story in bronze.
Elizabeth is on the streets of Congleton, caught engaging enthusiastically with passers-by. Perhaps she is urging women to demand the vote. Or promoting the importance of girls’ education to reluctant fathers. Or arguing that women must be able to own their own property and keep their earnings. (Photo courtesy of Pete Stonier.)
I follow traditional techniques to ensure the highest quality: working with a life model (Rosie Talbot), building a strong armature to size, hand-building the clay figure, first unclothed, then sculpting-on the clothes. The mould was made in my studio, then shipped up to the foundry (Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry).
On a glorious International Women’s Day – 8 March 2022 – the statue of Our Elizabeth was unveiled very fittingly by Baroness Hale of Richmond, the former President of the Supreme Court. First, the crowds – including many schoolchildren – marched down Bridge Street to greet the statue. Thanks to Prickly Peach Films and BBC North West for their coverage.
Commissioner: Elizabeth’s Group, Susan Munro (lead)
Unveiling: 8 March 2022
Dimensions: 4ft 11in
Material: Clay, bronze
Funders: crowdfunding and private donations
Model: Rosie Talbot
Costume design: Rosie Talbot
Foundry: Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry; Installation: Artful Logistics
Patination: Derek Bayley
Critical eye: Marji Talbot (Art Junction)
Studio technical assistance: Mark Longworth, Sandra Reeves