Too Few Statues Of Women In Public Art? Aussie Artist Couple Fixes That

Ten statues of famous women were installed in New York last week as the first part of an international project by Australian artists to highlight gender imbalance in monuments.

Media mogul and talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett and three-time Olympic gold medallist Gabby Douglas were among the personalities chosen by the public to be carved in bronze.

The statues, which stand around 2m tall, are the work of husband-and-wife sculpting duo Gillie and Marc Schattner, who want women to be fairly represented in public art. They say on their website that less than 3% of New York’s statues are of women. The figure is 3% in London and 4% in Sydney, they add.

“It’s gorgeous!” said 46-year-old Leslie Daniels as she stopped to look at the installation on Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue near Rockefeller Centre. “We women are great contributors to society and they just overlook us. It is uplifting to see this.”

The statues, unveiled on Aug 26 to mark Women’s Equality Day, feature inspirational women from different walks of life. They are mostly American and were nominated online.

Astronaut Tracy Dyson, Grammy-winning singer Pink, Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman, and transgender author and activist Janet Mock are among those striking a powerful pose on a flower of their choosing.

Pedestrians walk past statues of British primatologist Jane Goodall (left) and Australian actress Cate Blanchett in New York. Only a fraction of statues in New York, London or Sydney honour women. To remedy this glaring inequality, the duo of Australian artists unveiled 10 female statues in Manhattan, the first step of a project of international proportion. Photo: AFP

Writer Cheryl Strayed, women’s empowerment campaigner Tererai Trent and English conservationist Jane Goodall are also featured.

“I think it’s great,” said 42-year-old Corinne Gudovic from Chicago as she eyed the statue of Goodall. “I wasn’t extremely sure what it was for at first, but I’m always for women’s empowerment and anything that demonstrates that is a good thing.”

Only five out of New York’s 150 public statues are of women, according to the city’s government. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed to building more. The Schattners plan to put up sculptures in other countries as well, including Australia and Britain, and are welcoming nominations on their website. – AFP

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