After all that excitement almost the least interesting outcome of the whole exercise was my discovery that only 2.7% of all the statues in the database were of named, historical, non-royal women (one of whom was a ghost
and only there because she was (probably still is, poor lass) looking for the spirit of her murdered husband.)
By contrast, named, historical men made up 54% of the UK’s statue population (82% of male statues were of this type).
But why, you ask, am I digging up all this arcane statue knowledge now? Well, because it seems that SOMEONE ELSE has also decided to have LOTS OF FUN counting statues. Specifically, statues in London. Although it seems they got paid to do it and now I feel like a MUG.
Anyway, their findings are similarly instructive. The stand-out line here is that “the number of sculptures that feature animals in London
is double that of named women”. Only 4% of London’s monuments are dedicated to named women. The study does not as far as I’m aware distinguish between royal and non-royal women, but given my previous findings, where royal women made up 68.8% of the total, that brings the total female numbers down to….2.6%, which is quite remarkably similar to my own count.
For women of colour, naturally, it’s worse: just 0.2% of all sculptures in London “are dedicated to women of colour” and I’m quoting there because I’m not sure what “dedicated to” means. When I did my count I was only looking at figurative statues because, to be blunt, abstract representations are a total waste of time if your aim is to diversify public representation. When someone is walking through a city, you have seconds, if that, of their attention; if your aim is to level up the amount of space women, and in particular, women of colour, take up in our minds compared to the default male, you’d better make sure your sculpture is very obviously a woman. Do I sound annoyed? Well you try having this argument a million times 0ver three years and see how calm you sound 🤪
ANYWAY, now comes the good news! The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan
, who incidentally was also mayor when we got the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, has just announced a £1m fund for community-led organisations who want to diversify their public spaces. SO, if YOU are a London-based community-led organisation, get on it! You can submit an application
for a grant worth up to £25,000 – and it doesn’t have to be a statue! It can be other kinds of street art, or street names or some other kind of project that changes the story we are telling through our public spaces. The deadline for the first round of funding is 12pm, on Wednesday 12 January. So, GFPs, get cracking