Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy

The finished clay sculpture of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy is seen in Hazel Reeves' studio - Elizabeth is engaging with the crowds, with one arm up and head turned and tilted
The final clay of the Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy’s statue in Hazel’s studio

Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy Statue, Congleton, Cheshire

The commission

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.

The story

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.

The technique

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).

Project

Commissioner: Elizabeth’s Group, Susan Munro (lead)

Location: Congleton

Unveiling: due 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

Critical eye: Marji Talbot (Art Junction)

Studio technical assistance: Mark Longworth, Sandra Reeves