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Revealed: How the statue of Mary Woll­stonecraft on Newington Green could look

Award-winning sculptors’ shortlisted designs for statue that honours an 18th-century feminist

09 March, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Left: How Maggi Hambling’s sculpture would look in situ. Right: Martin Jennings’ Mary Wollstonecraft with books

THESE are the two shortlisted designs showing how the long-awaited statue of revol­utionary 18th century feminist Mary Woll­stonecraft on Newington Green could look.

The mock-ups have been exclusively reveal­ed to the Tribune in the week Jeremy Corbyn again backed calls for a public landmark recognis­ing Wollstonecraft’s legacy on International Women’s Day.

Launched in 2010, the “Mary on the Green” campaign is now halfway through a £120,000 fundraising drive.

Mary, mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, wrote on girls’ education and civil rights, including A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

Now, two award-winning artists, Maggi Hambling and Martin Jennings, are in the line-up to create the memorial.

Anna Birch, of the campaign’s artwork group, said: “They are both brilliant and incredibly visual. They complement each other in different ways.

“There are very few memorials to women in London and we want to redress that balance.”

Ms Hambling, who has shown at Somerset House and the National Gallery, plans a 10ft-high sculpt­ure, pictured below.

The plinth would be faced in black granite and engraved in silver on three planes, one with Wollstonecraft’s name and dates, another with the quote “I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves” and the third, discreetly, with the artist’s name and the date of the sculpture.

“I’m really excited at the prospect of making real my sculpture, inspir­ed by trail­blazing Mary Wollstone­craft, which acts as a metaphor for challenges we women continue to face,” she said.

Mr Jennings’ work includes statues of writers George Orwell, at BBC Broadcasting House, and John Betje­man, at St Pancras Station.

About his design, pictured above, he said: “I have proposed a statue that expresses her heroic courage and sheer force of personality. In my pro­posed monument she holds a toppling pile of books in balance by her fingertips. Carved on either side would be some of her words from the Vindication: ‘Till greater equality be established in society, till ranks are confounded and women freed.’

“Her figure would be cast in bronze and set in stone to stand in place for at least as many centuries as her reputat­ion has been neglected.”

The campaign still needs to raise about £60,000. On Thursday, Mr Corbyn was among more than 40 men, including actors and comedians, signing a letter saying the time had come to break the “bronze ceiling” and celebrate Wollstonecraft’s life. Last year, more than 80 leading female figures also demanded the statue.

A public consultation will now be held before a decision in May or June.

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