Monday, March 08, 2021

Mary Seacole Portrait Statue Commission

This is a Call for Entries for Sculptors. A campaign has been launched to install the first statue of a black woman to celebrate the life and work of Mary Jane Seacole (1805 – 1881) in the interior of in one of Liverpool’s most iconic buildings - the Grade I Listed St George’s Hall.

This is about how you can submit an expression of interest in fulfilling this commission. 

Mary Seacole
(credit: Mary Seacole Trust)


Below I've divided the information about this commission into:

  • About the Commission
  • About Mary Seacole
  • About St. George's Hall
  • What sculptors should do next
One of two known photographs of Mary Seacole,
taken for a 
carte de visite by Maull & Company in London (c. 1873)

About the Commission


To mark International Women’s Day (today!), St George’s Hall Charitable Trust has announced its intention to install a statue of Mary Seacole in the Great Hall – a woman believed to be Britain’s first nurse practitioner who devoted her time to nursing soldiers during the Crimean War.

This is a significant commission for St George’s Hall, one of Liverpool’s most important public buildings, raising awareness of the contribution of remarkable women who have been overlooked in history. The trustees believe this statue will not only pay tribute to the heroine, but it will also act as a ‘thank you’ to the NHS and the extraordinary sacrifices they have made in keeping everyone safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Mary Seacole statue will also be the second woman and the first black woman to be commemorated in the Great Hall.  

St George’s Hall Charitable Trust is dedicated to conserving, restoring and developing the Grade I listed venue – with a focus on raising funds which can be invested in projects to sustain and improve the Hall. 

About Mary Seacole


Mary Seacole was born Mary Jane Grant on 23 November 1805 in Kingston, Jamaica. Her mother was Jamaican and a doctress - a female doctor who can cure illnesses with local herbs and medicines - and her father was Scottish and an officer in the British Army. Mary also became a doctress and also set up hotels and shops throughout her life.

She travelled to England in 1821 when she was just 16-years-old and despite women traveling along being frowned on. Mary was very independent and ended up writing a book about all her solo travels called Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands. This became the first-ever autobiography published by a free black woman in the British empire.

In October 1853, the Crimean War started. Mary offered her skills as a nurse but was not given a position due to the colour of her skin.  Undeterred, she paid her own way to the Crimea with her friend Thomas Day and they opened the British Hotel – a hotel and store – two miles from where the soldiers were stationed in Balaklava, Crimea. 

As well as treating soldiers at her hotel, Mary would also visit the battlefront on her horse; taking sandwiches, drinks, bandages and medicines with her. She treated British, French and Sardinian soldiers – who were all allies – but she also tended to Russian soldiers, even though they were technically the enemy.

Despite being so well-loved, Mary was forgotten about in history after her death in 1881. It was only in 1980 that her story was rediscovered by historians. A statue of Mary Seacole sits outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London and is believed to be the first in the UK to honour a black woman.

Reference:

About St. George's Hall


St George’s Hall is of local, national, and international significance and is the emotive heart of the community.

It is a Grade I listed building ans has been described as the finest Neo-Classical building in Europe, forming part of Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in the heart of the William Brown Street Conservation Area and Liverpool’s St George’s Quarter CIC. 

The 13 statues in the Great Hall are: George Stephenson, Sir Robert Peel, Sir William Brown, Sir William Roscoe, Joseph Mayer, Frederick Arthur Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby Edward George Geoffrey Smith Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby by William Theed the Younger, William Ewart Gladstone, Reverend Jonathan Brooks, Archdeacon of Liverpool, Samuel Robert Graves M.P., Edward Whitley M.P., Reverend Doctor Hugh McNeile, Dean of Ripon and Kitty Wilkinson (the pioneering health campaigner - installed in 2012)

For more information about St George’s Hall visit www.stgeorgeshallliverpool.co.uk/

What sculptors should do next

A call out to artists is now open to apply to be considered to take on the role of creating a marble portrait statue that will take pride of place in the stunning Great Hall of St George's Hall.  

Artists interested in being considered for this sculpture commission need to submit a digital expression of interest online to include: 
  • your CV, 
  • images of work, 
  • supporting material 
Your digital expression of interest (not exceeding 10MB in total) should be sent via WeTransfer to Sharon Clare ( Sharon.Clare@liverpool.gov.uk ) no later than Friday 30th April 2021. 

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