Article Source: RSPB
First Published: 7 October 2021 10:58
Updated: 7 October 2021 11:01
The campaign to create a statue of RSPB founder and eco pioneer Emily Williamson (1855-1936) is touring RSPB reserves around the country. This will include a visit to RSPB Loch Leven in Kinross, on Friday 8 October 2021. Four sculptors have each created a beautiful design of a statue for Emily and the maquettes (miniature statues) will be on display at Loch Leven with visitors able to find out more about the project and vote for their favourite.
Emily’s campaigning began with her horror at the fashion for using feathers in the creation of hats; a cruel practice that reached a peak in Victorian times and often saw whole birds used within ostentatious designs. It was a huge industry that saw the importation of millions of birds for their feathers and threatened the extinction of whole species. Emily’s campaign began with a meeting over tea and cakes in 1889 and would ultimately lead to a change in legislation (not until 1921 with the Plumage Act) and the founding of the Society for the Protection of Birds, which in 1904 would receive royal ascent to be come the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
And yet, Emily’s story hasn’t gained its rightful place in the history books, she’s received little recognition and her inspiring legacy has been largely unexplored. But that is about to change. The catalyst for this will be a statue for Emily that will stand in the grounds of the home from where her campaigning began; Didsbury’s Fletcher Moss Park, Manchester. And with the project, which is a partnership between the RSPB and the Emily Williamson Statue Campaign, comes a reminder of what we can achieve as individuals and that we as individuals must do more for the natural world.
Visitors to RSPB Loch Leven will be able to find out more about Emily’s story, see the four exquisite maquettes that have been created by the final shortlisted sculptors, vote for their favourite and meet Chair of the Emily Williamson Statue Committee, Andrew Simcock. Andrew previously led a public engagement exercise of this nature with the campaign for a statue of the suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst. This was unveiled in Manchester during the centenary of Votes for Women in 2018 and was recently voted the city’s favourite statue.
Andrew Simcock, Chair of the Emily Williamson Statue Committee, says, “The public have already helped us to shortlist to the final four sculptors and I want to encourage as many people as possible to now vote for their favourite design. We want Emily’s statue to be representative of the people that it seeks to inspire and our tour of RSPB reserves will be a wonderful way of reaching and engaging with people to share her incredible story. It’s also a poignant reminder of the legacy that Emily helped to create, with over 200 reserves now just a part of the work of the RSPB. I’m looking forward to visiting picturesque Loch Leven, a vitally important site for wildlife which also attracts thousands of visitors each year from across the world.”
The Emily Williamson Statue Campaign’s tour of RSPB reserves will take in the length and breadth of the country, visiting ten reserves. These include the RSPB’s headquarters in Bedfordshire, South Stacks in Wales and Belfast’s Window on Wildlife. Each is very different featuring heathlands, marshes and cliff tops.
The four short listed designs:
Clare Abbatt looks to the future by placing Emily next to a young girl who represents her great great niece, Professor Melissa Bateson, who now works as a bird scientist. The intention is to engage visitors of all ages in the challenges faced by the natural world.
Clare, who lives in Northamptonshire, says, “I’m committed to the idea of taking something forward; of it being not just a memorial, but a living inspiration. I want to celebrate what the RSPB is doing today by creating a piece of work that engages visitors of all ages, which children in particular can enjoy and learn from.”
Billie Bond makes direct reference to ‘murderous millinery’ with a bird hat, turned upsidedown to become a bird bath. Emily is seated quietly and contemplatively on a bench in her garden: the visitor is invited to join her, and reflect on the story.
Billie, who lives in Great Waltham, Essex, says, “To me, the feathers, the hats and the birds were the most important part of the story. The statue needs to shock, to show what was happening. But I wanted the hat to also tell a different story. By turning it upside down, Emily is giving it back to the birds. The little bird perched on the rim is a robin. It’s a symbolic offering: the robin represents rebirth.”
The design of international artist Laury Dizengremel is serene and simple: a young Emily looks tenderly and compassionately at a bird held in her hand. Laury’s aim is for people to have an instant connection to the statue.
Laury, who lives in France, says, “I want people to have an emotional response to my sculpture of Emily. I want it to have an emotional impact. I want people to be able to walk up to it, like a person, and say, “Hi there”.
Eve Shepherd has conceived a design that reveals more the closer one gets – with a crinoline dress that is in fact an organic cliff face, a nesting ground home to the birds that Emily campaigned to save. It also reflects a concern for the future, with birds that are vulnerable today incorporated into the design; owl, heron, grebe and kingfisher.
Eve, who lives in Brighton, says, “My version of Emily draws together both person and landscape. She protects the birds, women and girls within her care; she is the ‘mother of nature’. Visually, the statue will blend in with its leafy surroundings, as Emily’s verdigris skirts fade upwards to a warm conker brown. My work is designed to fit within nature and grow out of nature, as if Emily’s emerging from her surroundings. She is the conservation story. She’s Mother Nature herself.”
Andrew will be at Loch Leven on Friday 8th October from 10:00am until 4:00pm, all of the maquettes will be on display and there will be details of how to vote. All the information for planning a visit is here.
Those that cannot make it to Loch Leven can also vote online at www.emilywilliamsonstatue.com. Voting will be open until the end of October, with the final selected design to be announced in early November.
More information about Emily’s story can be found here; she was born in Lancaster, moved to Manchester when she married and later moved to London.
The campaign has a Crowdfunder to which donations can be made via https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/emilywilliamson
Image: RSPB Loch Leven Reserve
Ron Lawson, Scotland's most original and in demand artist opens his largest Solo Exhibition in 3 years at The Strathearn Gallery in Crieff on Saturday 30th October.
Beatson Cancer Charity is launching a rewards card which will offer fantastic discounts in a variety of businesses situated around Scotland.
Specialist child and youth care provider Kibble is encouraging those looking to move into a more meaningful career to sign up to its Child and Youth Care Worker Staff-in-Training programme.
2021 marks ten years of Book Week Scotland, and Scottish Book Trust has today (12 October) launched a programme of events around the theme of ‘Celebration’.
Scotland’s expanding network of distinctive water refill stations is set to inspire people to enjoy and protect the nation’s great outdoors this Autumn.
The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award is today delighted to reveal 2021’s Shortlist, plus the winner of the inaugural Modern Scottish Classic Award, as voted by 2021’s Longlist.
The campaign to create a statue of RSPB founder and eco pioneer Emily Williamson (1855-1936) is touring RSPB reserves around the country including a visit to RSPB Loch Leven in Kinross.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is asking the public to submit photographs or artwork showcasing the impact of climate change on Scotland.
Scotland’s legendary Kiltwalk Kindness has raised a remarkable £8.4 million for more than 1,200 charities across the country this year.
Leading UK housebuilder Miller Homes returns this autumn with its Home Safe campaign, keeping children safe on their walk, cycle, or scoot, to and from school!
From today until midnight on Wednesday 29th September, music fans can vote for their favourite Scottish album on this year’s Longlist at The SAY Award.
In a new collaboration between Pitlochry Festival Theatre and the National Trust for Scotland, a specially-commissioned soundscape, has been installed at Moirlanich Longhouse.
Rosemary Laird is in the midst of a personal grand tour of Scotland, with the aim of visiting 61 iconic Scottish landmarks and locations on an epic fundraiser for the National Trust for Scotland.
Light Waves is a multilingual short film by Historic Environment Scotland which showcases Scotland’s coasts and waters and its links to Gaelic and Scots culture.
An eclectic and inclusive programme has been unveiled for St Andrews Voices, Scotland’s singing festival, bringing a breadth of vocal and choral music to the Fife town this October.
Scotland's national music prize, the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award, has officially announced the twenty outstanding Scottish albums which have made it onto this year's coveted Longlist!
We are excited to let you know that BBC Scotland's Debate Night is welcoming audiences back into the studio for their third series and are looking for people from across Scotland to join them!
Consumers across Scotland are being urged to only buy pre-loved clothing for 30 days or more in order to tackle a throwaway culture that Oxfam Scotland says is making climate change worse.
The annual FREE Loch Lomond Food and Drink Festival is back this weekend and is shaping up to be a great day out for all the family with a great entertainment line-up and new charitable partnership!
It’s one month today until Kiltwalkers march out for the charities of their choice, as Scotland's favourite mass participation charity event makes its real-life return!
Scotland's talented young musicians will once again meet in person to learn, collaborate, play, and perform in prestigious venues across Scotland.
The National Theatre of Scotland has launched its new online education portal for teachers and students with a specially created resource pack for Hannah Lavery’s Lament for Sheku Bayoh.
Scottish Ballet, Diageo and Whisky Auctioneer have announced the release of 470 bottles from a single cask of Royal Lochnagar whisky, which will be sold at auction 9-13 September 2021!
A new experimental theatre production will take place at Ben Lomond on Sunday 26th September combining music, dance and spoken word!
Here at Love Seafood, it’s our mission to get you excited about eating seafood, so we’ve pulled together some of Scotland’s best seafood restaurants.
A new campaign to raise awareness of and encourage people to choose sustainable transport when traveling to the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park has launched!
Come and enjoy a fun filled day out on the banks of Loch Lomond when Loch Lomond Food and Drink Festival returns in September!
With less than four weeks to go until the gates open at cinch presents TRNSMT, the festival has announced a huge collaboration with Scotland's most popular street food market, Big Feed!
The Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers, one of the oldest Archery organisations in the world, return to Drummond Castle this month for their annual Papingo Shoot.
The National Trust for Scotland’s Drum Castle, one of Scotland’s oldest tower houses and one of the gems of the North East, is hosting a new exhibition on Scottish artist, Edward Atkinson Hornel.