At the artists’ briefing, I was struck by Helen Pankhurst’s suggestion that this needs to be a statue where people come together, to continue Emmeline’s work in progressing women’s rights.
I am proposing a stone ‘meeting circle’, encircling Emmeline, just as the crowds used to encircle her. This provides Emmeline with a stage and a sense of place, among the tall buildings around. Here people will come to meet, to speak, to demonstrate, to celebrate, to reflect. The gently sloping seating wall provides elevation for speakers and seats for listeners.
Emmeline’s statue – “Rise up, women” – and the meeting circle, will be oriented westwards, towards the site of the former Free Trade Hall, significant in the history of Emmeline and the Suffragettes.
The statue marks a significant point in the struggle for women’s suffrage – 1908/09. Incensed by repeated political betrayal, enough was enough. The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) called for “Deeds not Words”, for women to rise up and claim their right to vote. The Suffragette arrow motif alludes to the consequences – to Emmeline’s first imprisonment in 1908 and the commencement of hunger strikes in 1909.