IN FEBRUARY we marked 100 years since women were first given the vote, and this week we celebrate International Women’s Day.
We marked the day by inviting sculptor Denise Dutton to Oldham to see the site of Annie Kenney statue in Oldham town centre. Annie was a key figure in the suffragette movement, and prior to that lived and worked in Oldham. She was the only working class woman to hold a senior position in the ‘Women’s Social and Political Union’ (WSPU), which spearheaded the campaign for universal suffrage under the banner ‘Votes for Women.’
Denise Dutton is an outstanding sculpture with an attention to detail and skill which creates beautiful installations.
She was the artist behind the Ben Brierley statue, Lancashire dialect poet in Failsworth Pole and it was here I met her along with John Crompton from the Failsworth Historical Society. Taking visits to Derbyshire to see the clay being worked on gave me an insight into the skill which goes into creating something very special.
It would be hard to imagine Failsworth Pole without Ben overlooking it, and I hope Annie Kenney will have the same impact on Oldham town centre. I hope it inspires us all to fight for an equal society and that we remember the rights we enjoy today were hard won and should be guarded and built on.
We have been asking local people and organisations to help us erect a statue in memory of Annie in recognition of her work as a local activist.
We were overwhelmed by the generosity of people across the country that have donated to the project with a special thanks to Stan Chow, an artist from Manchester who donated limited special edition prints that are available to purchase as a contribution to the project.
Schools such as The Oasis Academy and The Hulme Grammar School in my constituency have held non-uniform days to raise significant funds towards the project, the project exciting in itself has bought together the community for a credible and long overdue cause.
We are now at a stage where we can commission the project, I am in talks with Oldham Council to discuss the practicalities around this to give Annie Kenney the recognition she deserves!
All donations are welcome, no matter how small is more than welcome. We are hoping to have the statue installed to mark the 100th anniversary of votes for women.
You can find out more about Annie’s life online by visiting www.jimmcmahon.co.uk.
You can learn more about Denise Dutton’s work by visiting her website – http://www.denisedutton.co.uk/