The sculptor commissioned to create a statue of the Leicester suffragette Alice Hawkins has revealed how the larger-than-life size sculpture will look.
Sean Hedges-Quinn’s scale-model of the statue shows Alice as she might have looked at the height of the suffragette movement in 1912, when she would have regularly addressed the crowds at Leicester Market.
Alice is wearing lace-up boots, probably made at the Equity shoe factory where she worked – a long skirt and a wide-brimmed hat. She is shown in a confident pose, with her right arm half-raised, a ‘Votes for Women’ sash across her chest and her rolled-up speech in her left hand.
She is also proudly wearing her Speaker’s Ribbon, her Hunger Strike Medal and, at her throat, a Holloway Brooch designed by Sylvia Pankhurst and awarded to members of the Women’s Social and Political Union who had been imprisoned for the cause.
Sean Hedges-Quinn, who has already created statues of Sir Alf Ramsey in Ipswich, Gracie Fields in Rochdale and Nat Lofthouse in Bolton, said: “I wanted to capture Alice’s character and show the strong-willed and strong-minded woman she was. She believed passionately in her cause, and I was keen to show that spirit and determination.
“Facing up to the hecklers who surrounded her in the market place would have taken guts, so Alice was clearly no shrinking violet. That’s why I’ve portrayed her in a confident stance, gesturing towards the crowds with defiance in her eyes.
“The maquette gives you a good idea of how the finished statue will look, although the real thing will be over 7ft tall and will look out over the market place from a 4ft-high plinth, added Sean.
“I’m very proud to have this commission and hope that my statue will do justice to a truly remarkable woman.”
A panel, comprising assistant city mayor for communities and equalities Cllr Manjula Sood, Elizabeth Wheelband of De Montfort University’s Heritage Centre, Elaine Pantling – who will perform her show Alice: In Her Shoes, at Leicester’s Curve theatre in October and public art expert Dindy Outen, selected Sean Hedges-Quinn from a shortlist of three sculptors.
Cllr Sood – who was Lord Mayor of Leicester in 2008 – said: “We were impressed by Sean’s approach and look forward very much to seeing the finished statue.
“Alice Hawkins was the figurehead for the suffrage movement in Leicester and it’s thanks to women like her that a woman like me had the opportunity to enter politics and become Lord Mayor. This statue will finally give this remarkable woman the recognition she deserves.”
The project to commemorate the woman who fought so hard to secure electoral reform in Britain has been driven by Alice’s great-grandson Peter Barratt and Leicester City Council’s heritage champion Cllr Adam Clarke – but the project has been funded by local businessman Jamie Lewis, whose donation of £62,400 ensured the plans for the statue could go ahead.
The statue of Alice will be installed in Leicester’s new market square and is expected to be unveiled in February as part of celebrations to mark next year’s centenary of the Representation of the People Act and Parliament’s ‘Vote 100’ initiative.