Funding plea for landmark Virginia Woolf statue on Richmond Riverside

  Posted: 23.11.21 at 13:11 by Rory Poulter

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A funding plea launches at noon today – Tuesday – with the aim of raising the final £15,000 needed to place a bronze statue of Virginia Woolf on Richmond riverside.

Last week, charity campaigners were given approval by councillors for the statue of the author sitting on a bench near Richmond Bridge.

They have already raised more than £35,000 and they are now pushing to meet the £50,000 target to make the scheme a reality.

Recognised as one of the great writers of the 20th century, Virginia Woolf's ideas helped to change the course of literature and champion women's rights.

A mock-up of the sculpture, by Laury Dizengremel, has won widespread approval. However, the chairman of the Richmond Society, Barry May, has raised an objection on the basis the location is insensitive as the author died by drowning in a river.

A recent audit of London's statues found that there were twice as many statues of animals as there were of named women in the city.

Last week, charity campaigners were given approval by councillors for the statue of the author sitting on a bench near Richmond Bridge.

Nationally, there are very few statues of women of achievement (under 3%) and the organisers say: “We need more representations of great women in our public spaces so that girls and women can see that their work is valued and given the recognition it deserves.

“Our beautiful new bronze artwork of Virginia Woolf will be an interactive monument that people can sit on and enjoy, maybe even become inspired to write.”

They added: “Richmond residents are as excited about the statue as we are. We have held two public consultations - the most recent, held in July 2021, found that 91% are in favour of the statue's installation.

“As well as receiving support from the general public, the statue has been endorsed on social media by: Caroline Criado-Perez, Polly Toynbee, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Deborah Frances-White, James O'Brien, Jodi Picoult, Cerys Matthews and Elizabeth Day.”

The group said: “Woolf is well-known for her relationship with fellow writer Vita Sackville-West, spawning some of the most romantic love letters in history. The two were open about their same-sex affair in a climate that was hostile to homosexuality.

“In honour of Sackville-West, Woolf wrote one of her most dazzling and innovative novels, Orlando.”

It is hoped the statue will a become a focus for artistic and literary events in the area, generating jobs and tourism.

The author spent 10 years spent in Richmond, where she wrote her first published short stories as well as groundbreaking novels Jacob's Room and Mrs Dalloway.

A crowdfunder page has been set up at this link.

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