Sit alongside Virginia Woolf on riverside as statue drive accelerates

  Posted: 14.11.20 at 11:55 by Ryan Prosser

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A life-sized clothed statue of “icon of the 20th century” writer Virginia Woolf is to be built and overlook the river in Richmond.

The first full-size statue of the English writer, famed for works such as Mrs Dalloway and Orlando, is set to be placed in the heart of the town in which she lived for 10 years.

Woolf moved to Richmond with her husband Leonard in 1914, living on The Green and then Hogarth House in Paradise Road until 1924.

The statue is the brainchild of award-winning sculptor Laury Dizengremel, known for her sculptures of many famous figures from Winston Churchilll to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the latter located near Hammersmith Bridge.

For her impression of Woolf, Ms Dizengremel wanted to strike a more upbeat tone than the busts currently on offer around London, and rejected suggestions that the writer disliked the town, citing the work of Peter Fullagar.

She said: “The bust in Tavistock Square is incredibly sad and Woolf didn’t like it. So my portrayal of Virginia is in a happy moment.

Sculptor Laury Dizengremel at work. Photo: Aurora Metro Arts and Media

“I imagined her sitting in Richmond on a bench writing into her diary. People seem to labour under the erroneous impression that Virginia didn’t like Richmond, but that’s bulls***.

“She might have said one thing about it, but we all say things like that.

“In her diary you see over and over again her love of Richmond, you see her love of the Thames, you see her enjoyment of walking the dog along there.

“This Virginia is happy, she sits on a bench and hopefully she will inspire generations of women.”

Gender imbalance

Virginia and her husband Leonard started the Hogarth Press from their home in Richmond

Ms Dizengremel also noted the disproportional representation of women in Britain’s public artwork, which currently account for just 5% of statues nationwide.

She added: “You have to be a queen or a naked nymph to have any sort of visual representation in public.

“So there are very few portrayals of women of achievement.”

This was echoed by the Richmond-based charity which commissioned the statue, Aurora Metro Arts and Media, which champions equality in art.

Founder Cheryl Robson said: “In terms of role models for young women and girls there’s a clear imbalance. We need to see more women of achievement celebrated.”

Portrait and sculpture. Still from YouTube video at the top of this story

Fundraising drive

The project to deliver Woolf’s statue has been years in the making.

This week Aurora Metro Arts and Media’s fundraising drive accelerated in light of the controversy surrounding the statue of Mary Wollstonecraft.

It renewed interest for artwork portraying women in a positive light and led to thousands of pounds pouring into the charity’s online fundraising page.

Today (Saturday, November 14) more than £20,000 towards the costs of the bronze casting has been pledged.

A welcome addition for Richmond Riverside?

Where Virginia will sit

Aurora Metro Arts and Media’s vision is to install the figure near Richmond Bridge on the terrace overlooking the Thames.

It will sit upon a matching bronze bench, an aspect that Ms Dizengremel believes will make the artwork more interactive so that visitors can sit next to and “engage in conversation” with the figure.

“It’s nice that it’s not just something you can look at, but something that you can sit next to and be with," she added.

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