A commissioned statue of Virginia Woolf has had a flood of donations after the unveiling of a controversial naked statue honouring Mary Wollstonecraft this week.
A silvered-bronze statue of Mary Wollstonecraft, designed by sculptor Maggi Hambling, features a naked woman emerging from a fusion of female bodies. Maggi Hambling has since explained that the statue was intended to represent the “birth of a movement” rather than a physical depiction of the writer.
The controversy prompted donations to another statue fundraiser, this time in celebration of author Virginia Woolf, to increase dramatically, raising almost £16,000 of the £50,000 target.
The statue by sculptor Laury Dizengremel will be a life-size bronze statue of the author sitting relaxed and thoughtful on a bench overlooking the river with space beside her for passers by to sit with her.
A depiction of how the Virginia Woolf statue will look
“It has raised a few eyebrows because we’ve got her gently smiling and enjoying her day, which goes against the stereotype of her being an anguished artist,” said a spokesperson for the fundraiser. “There’s a bust of Woolf in Tavistock Square that depicts her as an anguished tortured genius. She hated that bust, so it’s pretty awful that’s the thing that has come to represent her after her death – it’s so stereotypical of the idea that the only way a woman can be a genius is if she’s mentally ill. So we’re challenging that trope. If you read her diaries, every day she walked her dog along the river in Richmond and sat and enjoyed the view. So it’s true to history, and I think people have enjoyed the idea that they can sit next to her.”
Speaking on the controversial Wollstonecroft statue, Robson said: I like Maggi Hambling’s work, I just don’t think it was really fitting as a way of honouring a writer and thinker like Wollstonecraft. ”
Woolf statue sculptor, Dizengremel agreed, saying, “I question Maggi’s interpretation of what would best represent the spirit of Mary Wollstonescraft, how she didn’t anticipate that involving nakedness in the portrayal of a feminist icon would result in the tribute being protested against by the very audience it is intended for,” the sculptor said. “She defends the sculpture by saying people are missing the point, but I feel that with art, there oughtn’t to be a point that is made that requires an explanation. In other words, the viewer looks at a piece of art, and should get something out of it – the point should come across through the artwork itself. No need for a sign board or anyone including the artist to explain what the concept is.”