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Design for statue of suffragette Lady Rhondda is revealed

06 Mar 2023 3 minute read
A maquette of the statue of Lady Rhondda

The design for a statue of Suffragette Lady Rhondda (Margaret Haig Thomas) has been revealed in a special event at St Woolos Cathedral, Newport.

A maquette of the statue, created by artist Jane Robbins was unveiled this evening during an event organised by Monumental Welsh Women, in partnership with the Statue for Lady Rhondda group, celebrating Lady Rhondda.

The monument will be the fourth of five statues of named Welsh women being erected by the Monumental Welsh Women group following a national campaign to honour Wales’ hidden heroines.

Lady Rhondda was a Suffragette, businesswoman, a journalist and lifelong campaigner for women’s equality.

Her 40-year campaign for female peers resulted in women being able to sit in the House of Lords.

Sadly, she died before the law she fought for was changed, and too late to take her own seat.

Emmeline Pankhurst

Sculptor Jane Robbins is known for her figurative works, specialising in the human form and previous works include a statue of Lynda McCartney in Campbelltown Museum, Scotland and a bust of Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst for the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester.

This is the first time that the proposed design has been seen in public and it will continue to be refined and worked upon until it is cast in bronze.

The completed statue will be erected in Newport city centre in 2024.

Helen Molyneux from Monumental Welsh Women said: “We are proud to reveal the design for our fourth statue of a real Welsh woman.

“Lady Rhondda’s achievements were vast and diverse – from her political campaigning, to her pioneering business accomplishments to her influential journalism and Jane has caught her spirit, courage and determination in a truly beautiful and imposing sculpture which we hope will be a source of inspiration for the people – and particularly the girls and women – of Newport.”

Jane Robbins added: “To depict the dignity and strength of Margaret Haig Thomas, a classical figurative sculpture that depicts the likeness of the woman is vital, but I have combined that with a more abstract and contemporary plinth base which is set at a 45 degree angle, along with a life cast circle of hands of people who are alive today – making the statue of the here and now and not just a historical figure.

“The scale of the monument will be life and a quarter, which will make the statue stand at 7 feet – which is imposing but not too monumental to feel overbearing. I want her to be accessible and engaging to the people of Newport”

“I wanted to include a narrative about her survival from the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915 as I think this contributed to her strength and courage and indeed shaped her whole life.

“Her stance in this sculpture is one of fearlessness and a leaning toward the future.”

The sculpture will be known as ‘The Figurehead’ and life casting of some of the hands to be included in the sculpture will take place at the event on Monday.  The artist will continue to work on refining the model before it is cast in Bronze.

The first, award-winning statue of Wales’s first black head teacher, Betty Campbell was unveiled in Cardiff in September 2021 to critical acclaim. The second, of Elaine Morgan the evolutionary theorist and dramatist, was unveiled in Mountain Ash in March of 2022, while the third, of Cranogwen the master mariner and poet will be unveiled in June 2023.

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