Fawcett statute unveiled at Westminster
The public statue of the suffragist Millicent Fawcett was unveiled this week in Parliament Square in London. It is the first statue of a woman to be commissioned there, alongside such famous men as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and British Prime Ministers like Winston Churchhill.
Public statues are ubiquitous in our urban spaces, and the fact that so few represent women is a sign that their historical contributions have too often been ignored. In Edinburgh, there are more statues of dogs than of named women.
But do figurative statues of lone individuals do enough to recognise the role of mass movements that change society? Does a statue like this merely conform to a conservative form of remembrance, used to celebrate the elite 'great man' and the occasional queen? Is there a way to commemorate the campaign for women's suffrage that doesn't perpetuate this tradition?
The names and known portraits of 59 other campaigners have been included on Fawcett's plinth. Could a more abstract, collectivist commemoration have been devised that did not place Fawcett's contribution above these other activists?