A Vote for Women! Hazel Reeves’ Our Emmeline, Rise Up, Women wins the 2021 Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture with her inspiring statue of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. The statue which stands in St Peter’s Square in Manchester depicts Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928), who campaigned tirelessly for votes for women throughout her life and organised the suffragettes’ militant campaigns. She died shortly after women were granted equal voting rights with men.
The judging panel were impressed by the originality of the design of the sculpture in the way that Hazel Reeves, Brighton & Hove based Sculptor, had used a domestic chair in the place of the traditional, ubiquitous plinth. Emmeline’s foot on the edge of the chair can be seen as representing both her and her campaign’s precarity. The sculpture stands within a ‘meeting circle’ which the figurative sculptor also designed; this creates a practical piece of urban infrastructure providing seating for visitors or a platform for soapbox speakers.
In her acceptance speech on receiving this prestigious award, Hazel Reeves said that she was ‘absolutely thrilled that a statue of a woman, sculpted by a woman, has received such an accolade.’ She said that it was a privilege to tell the story of this extraordinary activist, Emmeline Pankhurst in bronze and added ‘I dedicate this award and the prize money to our modern-day Emmelines, who work tirelessly to challenge inequality and violence, because in their hearts they know that change is possible.’
‘Our Emmeline’ was unveiled on 14 December 2018 to commemorate the 100 years since women in the UK first voted in a general election. The statue had a marked impact on the local community when it was unveiled and has continued to attract a great deal of public engagement.