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Statues of women AND animals – not women “instead of” animals

2021 October 24

In the Guardian on 21st October an article was entitled “London has more statues of animals than of named women” and it wrote critically that “The number of sculptures that feature animals, almost 100, is double that of named women.” While the material emerged from the London mayor’s office it apparently argued about the need “to champion diversity in the capital’s public spaces” which might be seen as displaying more statues or removing existing sculptures, particularly of animals.

Nowhere does the article state or recognise that many animal statues in London are either made by women sculptors or represent women alongside animals.

Thus the memorial in St John’s Wood churchyard in 1937 included a fox,stag, squirrel. horse, cat, dog and heron together with a bird bat and dedication to Alice Drakoules, treasurer of the Humanitarian League,and an early supporter of the League for the Prohibition of Cruel Sports.

Drakoules memorial

Birdbath memorial to Alice Drakoules in St John’s Wood churchyard

Further the statue in Regent’s Park entitled “Protecting the Defenceless” is not only of a shepherdess and a lamb but records the work of the novelist Gertrude Colmore (and Harold Baillie-Weaver) founders of the National Council for Animals’ Welfare.

colmore statue

C.L.Hartwell ‘s statue with shepherdess and lamb dedicated to Gertrude Colmore (and Harold Baillie Weaver) in Regent’s Park


Similarly the restored bird bath on the Chelsea Embankment near Cheyne Walk was not solely given to birds but to commemorate the work of Margaret Damer Dawson within the Women’s Police Service in the First World War.She was also active in the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society.

A festive Thomas Carlyle and the restored bird bath
Chelsea Embankment Christmas 2013

Sam, the often ignored in Queen Square, but it is not just Sam being remembered but Patricia Penn who lived with him nearby.

sam the cat

Sam the cat in Queen Square, Holborn

These are not the only animals recording people – including women – but there are, of course, many animals sculpted by women. These include: Humphrey by Carole Solway, sitting in Old Gloucester Street; Diane Gorvin’s statue, including a cat, near Dr Salter and his daughter in Bermondsey called Dr Salter’s Dream and stolen some years ago; or the new old brown dog statue, replacing the destroyed one of years before in Battersea and this time paid by the old GLC and undertaken by Nicola Hicks in Battersea Park.

Let’s hope these statues are not destroyed as the result of an ambiguous statement and article. I did not search over days for this information but looked again at some of the earlier articles I wrote on these issues. If you cannot access them and want to read about them please email me.

Traces and representations: animal pasts in London’s present, The London Journal (vol 36: 1) March 2011, 54-71

‘The newly restored bird bath memorial near the Thomas Carlyle statue on Chelsea Embankment’ The Chelsea Society Report 2014, pp.66 -69

An exploration of the sculptures of Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh, Scotland and the brown dog in Battersea, South London, England, Society and Animals Journal of Human- Animal Studies vol 11: 4, 2003, pp. 353 -373.

See my Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entries on Alice Drakoules  and Gertrude Colmore

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