The joy inspired by Betty bodes well for Cranogwen
It is just over a month since the Betty Campbell monument was unveiled in Cardiff, and it has become quite a focal point in that time.
Yesterday, South African rugby fans made their way to the iconic statue in Central Square to get a photo with the woman who made sure Welsh school children knew what apartheid was, despite opposition from some parents and teachers.
The statue was designed and created by Eve Shepherd who posted on Twitter when the fans “who were delighted to have found the monument” sent her the picture they had taken, saying: “How wonderful is this?! Today’s Rugby fans Wales vs S.Africa at the Betty Campbell monument.”
How wonderful is this?! Today’s Rugby fans Wales vs https://t.co/oTPcVy0DJO at #theBettyCampbellmonument. Way back in the time of apartheid, she insisted on teaching her kids @MSPSCardiff about it, often at the opposition of some parents & teachers.@women_welsh @studio_response https://t.co/IogyvSa6y5
— Eve Shepherd (@UKSculpture) November 7, 2021
The monument to the black history campaigner is believed to be the first statue of a named, non-fictional woman in an outdoor public space in Wales, and is the result of the Hidden Heroines campaign which asked the public to vote for who they would wish to see immortalised from a shortlist of five historical Welsh women.
The next subject of the ambitious plan to erect five statues of important women in five years will be the trailblazing poet and journalist Sarah Jane Rees, known by her bardic name, Cranogwen.
The rugby fans are not alone in their pilgrimage to the statue, as the Twitter feed for Monumental Welsh Women has been filling up with photos of classes of children gathering to study under the gaze of Wales’ first black head teacher.
On Friday, author and presenter Gary Raymond responded to one of the sculptor’s tweets depicting a gathering of school children, saying: “A monument that keeps on giving. Has there been such an inspiring and empowering piece of public art anywhere in Wales until now?”
A monument that keeps on giving. Has there been such an inspiring and empowering piece of public art anywhere in Wales until now? https://t.co/tVqXD4zpuh
— Gary Raymond (@GaryRaymond_) November 5, 2021
Born in Cardiff in 1934, from a Welsh Mother and Jamaican Father, Betty Campbell Betty overcame her childhood of poverty and won a scholarship to Lady Margaret High School for Girls in Cardiff, becoming a schoolteacher in 1963.
She proved her doubters wrong after being told as a child that her dream job was “insurmountable”.
A mother of children who had gone to the statue on a class visit, shared a picture of the group seated and working away in front of the striking artwork calling the trip “inspirational”, while another parent described how his daughter sat chatting to one of statue children at Betty’s feet.
It’s amazingly sculpted. My 5 year old sat and talked to the children, just like she does with her dolls while we visited together…they became part of her world whilst she was there.
— David (@DG_400h) November 4, 2021
Launched back in May, the campaign for a statue to honour Cranogwen is now just £300 short of hitting it’s £20,000 crowdfunding target.
Growing up in Llangrannog, she began her career as a sailor on cargo ships for two years, sailing between Wales and France, before returning to London and Liverpool for study and becoming a teacher.
She then became the first ever women to win a poetry prize at the National Eisteddfod, in Aberystwyth in 1865.
Later she became editor of Y Frythones, the first editor of a Welsh magazine dedicated to women’s issues.
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