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Online celebration as Wollstonecraft statue is unveiled

“The mistake that people are making is that it is a statue for Mary Wollstonecraft and it is not a statue of Mary Wollstonecraft. Those are not her breasts," says Mary on the Green campaign chairwoman Bee Rowlatt

10 November, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

The statue in Newington Green

AN online celebration is due to take place tonight (Tuesday) to mark the unveiling of a statue paying homage to 18th-century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, 10 years after the campaign began.

Organisers of the project in Newington Green selected a 10ft design by artist Maggi Hambling, who is also known for a sculpture unveiled near Trafalgar Square of Oscar Wilde in 1998.

Currently, only one in 10 statues in London is of a woman.

Due to the pandemic and social distancing restrictions details of the unveiling event are being kept quiet to discourage large gatherings but friends and supporters are encouraged to join online celebrations of the occasion.

Mary on the Green campaign chairwoman Bee Rowlatt, who has written a biography of Wollstonecraft, said: “The mistake that people are making is that it is a statue for Mary Wollstonecraft and it is not a statue of Mary Wollstonecraft. Those are not her breasts.”


Mary on the Green 

“I want people to understand the difference between a statue of Mary Wollstonecraft, which this isn’t, and a statue for Mary Wollstonecraft. Maggi Hambling works in a very pioneering way. My understanding of this work of art is that it marks a complete break from the Victorian tradition of individuals on pedestals. It is something completely different and far more collaborative.”

She added: “It is a very hard thing to represent. How do you portray a birth of the movement of universal human rights? That is a very hard thing to do and personally I think she has done it. I appreciate that not everybody does.”

Wollstonecraft wrote the groundbreaking A Vindication of the Rights of Women, which set out a vision of women being treated equally to men. She attended services at the Newington Green Meeting House and set up a school for women’s education, now Newington Green School.

Ms Hambling’s figure depicts an “everywoman”, and will feature Mary Wollstonecraft’s words: “I do not wish women to have power over men but over themselves.”

The Mary on the Green campaign started in 2010 and raised more than £120,000 for the project.

An online cele­bra­tion will be taking place tonight at 7pm. For more details go to @MaryWOnTheGreen on Facebook and @maryonthegreen on Twitter.

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