A small model of the Alice Hawkins statue. Source | Leicester City Council.
By Conor de Smith
A statue of Suffragette Alice Hawkins due be unveiled in Leicester this weekend will address a burning inequality in the city, according to the deputy mayor.
Ms Hawkins is set to be honoured for her role in the suffragette movement in Leicester on Sunday 4 February when a 7ft-tall bronze statue is unveiled.
The statue has been funded by local businessman Jamie Lewis and will overlook Market Square, where Ms Hawkins addressed large crowds at the height of the suffragette movement in 1912.
Ms Hawkins, arrested five times for her protests, will become the first named woman in the city centre to be recognised with a statue. Barring an unnamed seamstress, all other statues celebrate local men such as Thomas Cook and King Richard III.
Cllr Adam Clarke, Leicester’s deputy mayor, believes the erection of Ms Hawkins’ statue will address a particularly poignant inequality within the city.
“We need to be demonstrating inspirational women in our public realm,” he said.
“It is important that women have a place in our public realm and that young women have somebody to look up to. I saw a symbolic inequality that needed to be addressed.”
Mr Clarke started a campaign to see her recognised in 2012 and puts Ms Hawkins’ inspiring story, that saw her rise from shoe machinist to national figurehead, down to her determined character.
“Alice recognised women didn’t have a voice, not only with the vote but in everyday life,” he said.
“She rose from very ordinary beginnings, a very working class background and from normality to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the aristocracy and great women who also argued for the vote.”
Sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn was commissioned to bring the statue, which took over a year to make, to life and had the difficult task of encompassing all of her traits in one piece of art.
“Her personality had to be made clear in the pose,” he said, “The clarity of stance had to be made clear. Determination is etched onto her face. She has a frown, she is reaching out, gesturing to the crowd, stirring and that is what I aimed for.”
Alice’s great-grandson Peter Barratt and Emmeline Pankhurst’s great-granddaughter will attend the unveiling at 2pm on Sunday.