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Sculptor Jane Robbins commissioned to create statue of suffragette Lady Rhondda in Newport

04 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Margaret Haig Thomas (1883-1958) by Alice Mary Burton (1893-1968) Parliamentary Art Collection

Monumental Welsh Women, in partnership with the Statue for Lady Rhondda group have announced that acclaimed figurative sculptor Jane Robbins has been commissioned to create a sculpture of Suffragette Lady Rhondda, Margaret Haig Thomas.

The announcement was made on BBC Radio Wales’ Lynn Bowles programme today (December 4th.)

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, broadcast by BBC Wales in 2019.

Lady Rhondda was a Suffragette, a global business woman, a journalist and Editor and lifelong campaigner for women’s equality.

She brought Emmeline Pankhurst to Wales and spearheaded the suffrage campaign among the women of Newport, using her privileged position to improve the lot of women.

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, too late to take her own seat.

Sculptor Jane Robbins is known for her figurative works, specialising in the human form. She is passionate about the creation of lasting, inspirational sculptures and embracing traditional craftsmanship.

Ms Robbins studied Figurative Sculpture at Stafford College, and began her career as a prop maker in theatre and television, before working solely in sculpture.

Jane is extremely proud of her Welsh roots – her father was born in Wrexham, and her grandfather, Ted Robbins was the Secretary of The Football Association for Wales (FAW) from 1909 until his death in 1946.

Hidden heroines

Helen Molyneux from Monumental Welsh Women said: “We are delighted to be able to announce the commissioning of 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.

“This will be the fourth statue commissioned by the Monumental Welsh Women project to celebrate the achievements of Wales’ hidden heroines – the women whose contributions to Welsh life and culture have been largely overlooked because of the era they were born in.

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

A rare breed

Sculptor Jane Robbins said: “As a female sculptor I’m a rare breed – sculpture is a male dominated world. I like to think Lady Rhondda would approve of me being chosen to create her statue.

“I think in commemorative sculpture it’s important to capture the person as they were in life. I’d like to celebrate the woman Lady Rhondda was in both the physical likeness I achieve and in capturing the dignity she possessed throughout her life and work.”

Julie Nicholas from the Statue for Lady Rhondda Campaign said: “The panel agreed that Jane’s idea for the statue not only represents the story of Lady Rhondda and her many achievements, but also cleverly reflects the story of Newport, where the statue will be situated.

“We are thrilled that Jane is going to create our monument and can’t wait to see the Statue of Lady Rhondda being revealed to the world.”

For further details of how to donate to the project including the continuation of a legacy programme for all 5 women: supporting this GoFundMe

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George Thomas
George Thomas
1 year ago

One step closer to the first 5. This is a brilliant idea of putting real people up as statues rather than just the ones who could pay for it to happen.

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