The making of an iconic and historic statue is the subject of the latest exhibition taking place at the Firstsite art gallery.

Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere: The Making of the Millicent Fawcett Statue for Parliament Square by Gillian Wearing opens this weekend,, November 10/11, in the space previously occupied by the Bronze Age c. 3500 BC - AD 2018 Exhibition.

It's another huge coup for Firstsite as this will be the only venue in the country staging the 'Making of' show but there's a good reason it's being brought to the town because not only was the sculpture co-commissioned by the Colchester gallery, director Sally Shaw was one of the ten women on the panel which decided which artist should create the piece.

She says: "It was such a honour to be asked, I think I cried for about the next four days."

Unveiled in April this year, Turner Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing was given the job of creating the statue of Millicent Fawcett, which marks the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act that gave some women over the age of 30 the vote.

It followed a campaign by activist Caroline Criado Perez for a statue of a woman to be put in Parliament Square, which led the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to set up the Suffrage Statue Advisory Panel.

Sally adds: "Not only is it the first ever monument to a woman to be erected in Parliament Square, it is also the first statue in the area to be made by a female artist. Alongside Fawcett, the names and portraits of 59 women and men who campaigned for women’s suffrage are inscribed on the plinth.

"Gillian’s proposal was a stand-out artwork from the outset, combining her incredible reputation and artistic integrity with her personal politics and exceptional sensitivity to material and creative process.

"To show the story of ‘the making of Millicent’ is a unique opportunity for Firstsite. The exhibition will provide a once-in-a-lifetime chance for visitors to go ‘behind the scenes’ of the making process to understand how this historic artwork came into being."

The title of the exhibition, Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere, comes from Fawcett’s response to the death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, knocked down by the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913.

It will feature a number of works drawn from Gillian’s celebrated photographic series, Signs that Say What You Want Them To Say and Not Signs that Say What Someone Else Wants You To Say as well as the original small-scale maquette of the statue, Gillian’s notes, designs and development research that chart its making, as well as 3D prints from the mould-making process – none of which have ever been shown in public before.

The exhibition also includes materials and documents from Fawcett’s life and further explores the lives of other members of the suffrage movement, who are memorialised in the frieze that wraps the plinth of the statue.

Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere: The Making of the Millicent Fawcett Statue runs until May 12.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Caroline Criado Perez will give a talk at Firstsite on Tuesday, November 27, discussing her campaign to commemorate the Suffragist leader and redress the gender imbalance in Parliament Square.

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