Manchester is known for its warehouses, cotton mills, railway viaducts, canals and iconic architecture. It has a rich and diverse array of statues to the people and events that shaped the city and to a significant extent forged the modern science, technology, industry and commerce that heralded the modern age. They make up the 22 or so of the various statues or public works of art that you can find in and around the city, only 4 of which are female figures.
CURRENTLY IN THE UK THERE ARE 828 STATUES AND 21% ARE WOMEN
Current Statues of Women in Manchester
The statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, officially called “Rise Up Women” is a bronze sculpture in St Peter’s Square, Manchester, depicting Emmeline Pankhurst, a British political activist and leader of the suffragette movement in the United Kingdom. In 2016, Sculptor Hazel Reeves was the overwhelming winner in a public vote to choose which woman should be memorialised. The statue was unveiled on 14 December 2018, the centenary of the 1918 United Kingdom general election, the first election in the United Kingdom in which women over the age of 30 could vote. Reeves chose to portray Pankhurst standing on a chair as she rallied a crowd. It is the first statue honouring a woman established in Manchester since a statue of Queen Victoria was dedicated more than 100 years ago.
A life-sized sculpture of entertainer Gracie Fields, the world’s highest-paid female actor in the 1930s, was unveiled outside Rochdale’s Town Hall Square on 18 September 2016. It was the first statue of a woman to be erected in Greater Manchester in more than 100 years. The statue was made by sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn, who based the statue on the global icon’s look during the 1940s. Gracie Fields was born above a Rochdale fish and chip shop in 1898, often performed to crowds on her many return visits to the town during her travelling performances for the troops during the second world war. Gracie preferred the stage to the screen, so Sean wanted to depict her on stage. He further wanted to capture her energy and mannerisms, such as the fact that she swished her skirt a lot when she was performing.
Annie Kenney (1879-1953) was an English working-class suffragette who became a leading figure in the Women’s Social and Political Union. A statued designed by sculptor Denise Dutton, was unveiled outside Oldham Town Hall on 14 December 2018 to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave some British women the right to vote. The sculpture depicts Annie in the Votes for Women sash and ringing a bell, honouring the only working class woman to hold a senior position in the Women's Social and Political Union.
More than a century after the first women’s football match and 110 statues of male players, the first public sculpture of a female footballer was unveiled outside of the National Football Museum in Manchester in June 2019. Lily Parr scored over 980 goals in her extraordinary 32-year career and was the first woman to feature in the museum’s Football Hall of Fame in 2002. The sculpture was created by Hannah Stewart who depicts Parr as iconic and pioneering, kicking with her powerful left foot which she was well-known for. Aside from being considered a pioneer of women's football, Parr is also currently considered an LGBT icon, since she lived with her partner, Mary, until she died of breast cancer in 1978.