Statues: Goats vs… Women?

Heritage Open Days launches this evening – counting down to two weekends in September when thousands of events all over England celebrate our fantastic history and culture. In this blog the creative team at Non Zero One tell us more about their fab project put her forward and redressing the balance of women vs goats… Who will you put forward?

Put Her Forward Copyright: Non Zero One

It’s January 2018, and Heritage Open Days has just announced a call-out for their 2018 Unsung Stories commission. They are looking for artists to create a ‘bold and impactful project’, in response to women’s history, heritage and culture, to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act and 90 years since Equal Franchise.

We, that is artist collective non zero one, were excited and intrigued by this proposal, and started to come up with potential ideas for applying. Our work always places the audience/visitor at its heart, so we knew the ‘unsung stories’ had to come from people across the country.  But what to do with these stories? What would they become – an audio piece? An installation? A tap dance? How could we create something across a series of locations? And how to make it, as the application requested, bold and impactful?

During our phase of ‘blue sky thinking’ we came across an article by Caroline Criado-Perez looking at the statistics behind statues.  We were stunned; more statues of men named John than of non-royal, non-mythical women. More statues of goats!?

In total, there are 925 public statues in the UK. 158 of these are women, and of these only 25 are non-mythical, non-royal women.

What is this saying about women? Goats have done more good? Because isn’t that what statues are all about; to remember those who have done great things, people to look up to, to respect? As a woman I felt dejected, statistically it highlighted the ongoing problem with women still not being treated as equal. The balance has to be addressed, and our idea would be one step forward in trying to change this.

We set an aim: to try and double the number of statues of women in England across the Heritage Open Days weekends – 8 days to unveil 25 new statues. Heritage Open Days gave us the thumbs up, and we were off to find our 25 women, and create heritage for the future.

So who are today’s unsung female heroes that should be celebrated? We’re interested in finding current stories, stories about women alive today who are doing great things. Here’s a moment for anyone to talk about a woman who has had a positive impact on them, or their community.

We’ve launched a nomination website www.putherforward.com where anyone can nominate a brilliant living woman, over the age of 18 and living in England. We’ve also set up live nomination events and workshops happening in June and July in locations across England to make sure we are hearing from a diverse and varied group of people, ensuring the 25 statues represent women from all walks of life. Nominations close at midnight on 29th July and we want to hear from you!

Once chosen, the 25 women will be 3D modelled into small, but pin-point accurate, sandstone painted statues. These will be unveiled at locations across England over the Heritage Open Days weekends, which we will announce in August.

So please get involved and nominate a woman you think should be recognised by going to http://www.putherforward.com. We look forward to hearing about all the brilliant women out there, and start redressing the balance of female statues in England today.

Blog by the team at Non Zero One.

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