Naked female statues

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Fishnut
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Fishnut » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:09 pm

EACLucifer wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:59 pm
Martin Y wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:44 pm
For me it's encapsulated in Tessa's opening post.
Tessa K wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 8:43 am
Is a statue of a naked woman empowering or is it - yet again - naked women for the male gaze?
When it's in the eye of the beholder there's no reason it can't be both.

Her: "Getting her tits out is defiant and empowering".
Him: "<blink> Hmm? What?"
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that a statue commissioned by a group with listed patrons and chair* all women that voted unanimously for a female sculptor's* statue was not intending it to be for the "male gaze"


*It only took a moment to check this, but I really don't think adeep dive onto who was involved is that important here.

**Worth pointing out, though, that the artist is in a long term relationship with a woman - assumptions about "male gaze" can be remarkably heteronormative
Just because it's not explicitly intended for the male gaze doesn't mean it doesn't fall into the same tropes.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Fishnut » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:10 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:07 pm
dyqik wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:53 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:36 pm


To tie her to her period history is to deny her ongoing achievements since then, in the present and (hopefully) future.
She's dead, BoaF. ;)

Yes, I know achievements outlive people and can be ongoing. But the period in history that she did stuff in is part of why she's important. You can't celebrate pioneers if you ignore that they were pioneering because they did stuff in a historical context.
For sure. But it's also important to recognise the ongoing contributions their achievements make. There's no need to be dogmatic about which part should be visually represented in a statue.

Indeed, a few months ago people including on here were arguing that there are too many statues focussing on old dead people and that public art should instead seek to venerate concepts and ideas.
Yes, but this was a statue that was supposed to honour a dead person.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Martin Y » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:11 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:49 pm
Martin Y wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:44 pm
For me it's encapsulated in Tessa's opening post.
Tessa K wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 8:43 am
Is a statue of a naked woman empowering or is it - yet again - naked women for the male gaze?
When it's in the eye of the beholder there's no reason it can't be both.

Her: "Getting her tits out is defiant and empowering".
Him: "<blink> Hmm? What?"
I'd be pretty surprised if anyone in the age of smartphones is going to be walking around parks getting boners looking at a statue's tiny silver tits.

It's a bit confusing. Normally people are trying to desexualise the female body, advocating for public breastfeeding, complaining about censorship of breasts and nipples on social media (and indeed in real life), and now suddenly a statue for Mary Wollstonecraft goes up and everyone's like "oooh cover yourself up, love, men might look at your boobies and think impure thoughts" like it would be better for feminism if she was contorted in a historically-accurate corset.
Yeah but there are a range of other possibilities than the statue's shiny little knockers turning some bloke on or their making him think noble thoughts about empowered women and equality. The statue could be anything. It could be a straightforward likeness of her or at the other extreme it could be entirely abstract. The question surely is what is it intended to make the viewer think and in what way does Silver Surfer Barbie achieve that?

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by snoozeofreason » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:16 pm

dyqik wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:57 pm
snoozeofreason wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:56 pm
(I assume it's part of the artwork, rather than someone who just wandered into shot when the photograph was taken).
I'm pretty sure that's there for scale.
Hmm, well it's a happy accident then. I don't think the statue has as much power without her for contrast, so I say keep her in!
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. The human body was knocked up pretty late on the Friday afternoon, with a deadline looming. How well do you expect it to work?

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by EACLucifer » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:25 pm

snoozeofreason wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:16 pm
dyqik wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:57 pm
snoozeofreason wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:56 pm
(I assume it's part of the artwork, rather than someone who just wandered into shot when the photograph was taken).
I'm pretty sure that's there for scale.
Hmm, well it's a happy accident then. I don't think the statue has as much power without her for contrast, so I say keep her in!
The contrast would have been provided by the public in general.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:28 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:10 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:07 pm
dyqik wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:53 pm

She's dead, BoaF. ;)

Yes, I know achievements outlive people and can be ongoing. But the period in history that she did stuff in is part of why she's important. You can't celebrate pioneers if you ignore that they were pioneering because they did stuff in a historical context.
For sure. But it's also important to recognise the ongoing contributions their achievements make. There's no need to be dogmatic about which part should be visually represented in a statue.

Indeed, a few months ago people including on here were arguing that there are too many statues focussing on old dead people and that public art should instead seek to venerate concepts and ideas.
Yes, but this was a statue that was supposed to honour a dead person.
I know. There are lots of ways to honour people, and making a statue is an honour in itself of course. The important thing about Mary Wollstonecraft wasn't her face or her clothes, so I don't see a compelling argument to make that the part of her legacy for a statue to focus on (I actually think we take doing so for granted and rarely consider how strange it is). I'm not saying that the statue is necessarily a more effective representation, but I'm not that familiar with Wollstonecraft's work and have no idea how I'd represent a feminist writer's oeuvre in statue form.

As Fishnut says, it would be better if the statue promoted discussion of Wollstonecraft's work. So - what is everyone's favourite bit of A Vindication of the Rights of Women, and how would you represent it as a statue?
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by EACLucifer » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:29 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:09 pm
EACLucifer wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:59 pm
Martin Y wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:44 pm
For me it's encapsulated in Tessa's opening post.
When it's in the eye of the beholder there's no reason it can't be both.

Her: "Getting her tits out is defiant and empowering".
Him: "<blink> Hmm? What?"
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that a statue commissioned by a group with listed patrons and chair* all women that voted unanimously for a female sculptor's* statue was not intending it to be for the "male gaze"


*It only took a moment to check this, but I really don't think adeep dive onto who was involved is that important here.

**Worth pointing out, though, that the artist is in a long term relationship with a woman - assumptions about "male gaze" can be remarkably heteronormative
Just because it's not explicitly intended for the male gaze doesn't mean it doesn't fall into the same tropes.
It is in itself extraordinarily problematic to presume any depiction of a female body is there for men to look at, especially when it is so clear from the origins of this work that it is not the intent of anyone involved in this statue's production.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:35 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:36 pm
dyqik wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:22 pm
Fishnut wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:49 pm

The focus on "oh, if she were clothed she'd be tied to the past, we need her to represent the 'now'" also infuriates me. If you want her in the 'now' why not put her in modern clothes? Clothes may tie us to a particular period but they also tie us to reality. Very few 'everywomen' go about their daily business naked. This isn't about prudery, it's about reality. If this statue is supposed to represent real women then she should look like real women and most women I see are clothed.
And in any case, this statue is celebrating a particular woman from a particular point in time. It's supposed to be tied to the past. To not tie it to her period in history is to deny her achievements under the particular circumstances of her time.
To tie her to her period history is to deny her ongoing achievements since then, in the present and (hopefully) future.

The obvious reason not to use modern clothes is the same reason not to use bellbottoms and headbands: it would look f.cking stupid in about 10 years. The nudity makes it timeless (as in, part of a continuity in Western representations of the human form stretching back for millennia), not modern. Dressing her up in what 2020 women wear to work would date the statue almost immediately.
I disagree. A clothed ‘everywoman’ figure doesn’t need to be tied to a particular era. Just make the sculpture even slightly abstract and it won’t be possible to tell which fashion is being followed.

Also, even a nude everywoman doesn’t have to look like Barbie. For example, abstract nudes by Fernando Botero, one of the world’s most celebrated sculptors:
B7338401-D106-4537-8717-16A14BC1BC5A.jpeg
B7338401-D106-4537-8717-16A14BC1BC5A.jpeg (256.94 KiB) Viewed 413 times

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by snoozeofreason » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:42 pm

EACLucifer wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:25 pm
snoozeofreason wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:16 pm
dyqik wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:57 pm


I'm pretty sure that's there for scale.
Hmm, well it's a happy accident then. I don't think the statue has as much power without her for contrast, so I say keep her in!
The contrast would have been provided by the public in general.
I think that would just emphasise the size of the statue. There's something more specific about a shadow. The statue by itself seems a bit leaden and literalistic. It wouldn't attract the male gaze, but I'm not sure it would attract any other kind of gaze either.
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. The human body was knocked up pretty late on the Friday afternoon, with a deadline looming. How well do you expect it to work?

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:54 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:35 pm
I disagree. A clothed ‘everywoman’ figure doesn’t need to be tied to a particular era. Just make the sculpture even slightly abstract and it won’t be possible to tell which fashion is being followed.
Sure, or she could even have avoided depicting clothes or body parts, like Antony Gormley's statues generally do for example. I was just responding to the insistence that the statue should have been a physically accurate representation of Mary Wollstonecraft in period dress.
Woodchopper wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:35 pm
Also, even a nude everywoman doesn’t have to look like Barbie.
I generally associate Barbie with totally disproportionate body shapes, as they traditionally were - have they changed?

This statue is clearly in the tradition of heroic nudity https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroic_nudity which is indeed idealised, but it's not impossible.
Woodchopper wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:35 pm
For example, abstract nudes by Fernando Botero, one of the world’s most celebrated sculptors:

B7338401-D106-4537-8717-16A14BC1BC5A.jpeg
I mean, if they did that there'd be a load of people complaining about glorifying obesity, a public health crisis that kills 30,000 people a year in the UK. And, of course, Wollstonecraft wasn't obese, etc, etc.


There are a lot of options for what a statue can look like, and this is one option. A lot of people are very insistent that it is definitively wrong, rather than a matter of taste.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Gfamily » Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:59 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:54 pm

I mean, if they did that there'd be a load of people complaining about glorifying obesity, a public health crisis that kills 30,000 people a year in the UK. And, of course, Wollstonecraft wasn't obese, etc, etc.
They'd also be asking if Adam et Eve, who had Eve eaten?
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Nov 13, 2020 4:09 pm

snoozeofreason wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:42 pm
The statue by itself seems a bit leaden and literalistic. It wouldn't attract the male gaze, but I'm not sure it would attract any other kind of gaze either.
Yes, I think it's quite clear why the committee chose not to go with yet another boring old statue of a boring old dead person most people have barely heard of, and would probably assume was racist. The whole point was to engage local people, not terminally online nerds who've already read Vindication:
Mary on the Green: celebrating the life of Mary Wollstonecraft

The Mary on the Green campaign celebrates one of history’s most neglected icons, Mary Wollstonecraft. Wollstonecraft knew poverty and disadvantage from an early age. Yet as one of the key thinkers of the Enlightenment, she challenged society and changed the world. Her life sends a message of encouragement to young people in a world divided along gender and class lines. Wollstonecraft’s work is far from done. The campaign has two goals.

The Memorial: a symbol of her legacy in a public statue/work of art
The Wollstonecraft Society: a network of people, a promotion of ideas and an outreach programme of accessible learning materials.

The Memorial

Over 90% of London’s monuments celebrate men. This is set against a population of 51% women. The memorial to Mary Wollstonecraft will be a source of debate and stimulus for events, as well as a visual celebration of diversity and inclusion in a place that needs it more than ever.

The memorial will be a tangible way to share Wollstonecraft’s vision and ideas. Her presence in a physical form will be an inspiration to local young people in Islington, Haringey and Hackney. And it will send a powerful message beyond that, across the world. Just as the image of Churchill’s memorial statue is used in debates on his legacy, the same is needed for Mary Wollstonecraft.
The Wollstonecraft Society’s objectives are

To promote the recognition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s contribution to equality, diversity and human rights.
To promote equality and diversity in education, and stimulate aspiration and thoughtful reflection.
As a symbol of emerging triumphantly from something, I think it's quite successful. Both the figure and the amorphous cloud below her are sufficiently generic to enable the viewer to project their own circumstances onto it, which from what I've read about her works on Wikipedia seems quite appropriate, as she was clearly concerned with overcoming all forms of human oppression - anti-slavery, anti-monarchy, pro-democracy, feminist, etc.

But I did have to look her up, as would most people who look at the statue. It needs some accompanying blurb, so that it serves as an arresting visual hook as well as a symbol and celebration. But a visually boring old statue looking like a Jane Austen character wouldn't interest anyone, and I'm not sure that an iconoclast like Wollstonecraft is best celebrated by adopting the same visual language used to venerate kings and politicians anyway.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Nov 13, 2020 4:15 pm

And here's what the Mary on the Green campaign themselves have to say:
We are so grateful to everyone who has thoughtfully engaged with 'A Sculpture for Mary #Wollstonecraft' over the past couple of days: it's fantastic to see so many people talking about this incredible woman who, for far too long, was written out of history.


There's no question that Maggi Hambling is a challenging artist, and this is not your average memorial. It doesn't depict Mary #Wollstonecraft herself, but represents the birth of a movement: this figure is, to use Wollstonecraft's own words, "the first of a new genus".


The work celebrates her contribution to society with something that goes beyond the Victorian traditions of putting people on pedestals. It seeks to spark conversation and to stimulate debate, both online and IRL: to encourage people to think about what public art is and can be.


Maggi Hambling's design was selected in May 2018 through a competitive, consultative process. The design has been in the public domain since then. We understand that not everyone agrees with the end result.


The diversity of views, openly expressed, is just what Mary #Wollstonecraft would have loved.

Our position has always been that the artwork should capture Wollstonecraft's spirit: she was a pioneer who defied convention, and she deserves a memorial that's as radical as she was.


We'd encourage anyone who hasn't seen it yet to watch the unveiling and learn a little more about the thinking behind the design - and to go to Newington Green and see it for yourself, when it's safe to do so.
Mary on the Green Premiere



200 years after her death, Mary #Wollstonecraft continues to break boundaries and stimulate debate.

There are people who will go to bed tonight knowing more about Mary Wollstonecraft than they did this morning: and that's something to be proud of.

We look forward to more campaign groups raising the funds to celebrate and memorialise the impact and achievements of other women, too.

We hope the conversations of the past couple of days have galvanised more people to support these efforts.
https://twitter.com/maryonthegreen/stat ... 8208050177
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Tessa K » Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:13 am

Ther's already a plaque to her just up the road btw. It's now Newington Green Primary School.

Image

And two more, one in Southwark https://openplaques.org/plaques/1151 and one in Camden https://openplaques.org/plaques/1085

She also lived on Store Street off Tottenham Court Road where I lived for 20 years so perhaps I'm a bit more aware of her than some.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Grumble » Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:27 am

Tessa K wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:13 am
Ther's already a plaque to her just up the road btw. It's now Newington Green Primary School.

Image

And two more, one in Southwark https://openplaques.org/plaques/1151 and one in Camden https://openplaques.org/plaques/1085

She also lived on Store Street off Tottenham Court Road where I lived for 20 years so perhaps I'm a bit more aware of her than some.
She died aged 38? What a loss. Makes you wonder what more she could have achieved given a bit longer on the planet, what other minds she could have changed.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Tessa K » Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:32 am

Grumble wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:27 am
Tessa K wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:13 am
Ther's already a plaque to her just up the road btw. It's now Newington Green Primary School.

And two more, one in Southwark https://openplaques.org/plaques/1151 and one in Camden https://openplaques.org/plaques/1085

She also lived on Store Street off Tottenham Court Road where I lived for 20 years so perhaps I'm a bit more aware of her than some.
She died aged 38? What a loss. Makes you wonder what more she could have achieved given a bit longer on the planet, what other minds she could have changed.

A reminder just how precarious women's lives were in the 18th century. From Wiki:
On 30 August 1797, Wollstonecraft gave birth to her second daughter, Mary. Although the delivery seemed to go well initially, the placenta broke apart during the birth and became infected; childbed fever was a common and often fatal occurrence in the eighteenth century. After several days of agony, Wollstonecraft died of septicaemia on 10 September. ... She was buried at Old Saint Pancras Churchyard, where her tombstone reads: Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: Born 27 April 1759: Died 10 September 1797
That daughter was of course the author of Frankenstein.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Woodchopper » Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:23 am

Grumble wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:27 am
Tessa K wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:13 am
Ther's already a plaque to her just up the road btw. It's now Newington Green Primary School.

Image

And two more, one in Southwark https://openplaques.org/plaques/1151 and one in Camden https://openplaques.org/plaques/1085

She also lived on Store Street off Tottenham Court Road where I lived for 20 years so perhaps I'm a bit more aware of her than some.
She died aged 38? What a loss. Makes you wonder what more she could have achieved given a bit longer on the planet, what other minds she could have changed.
Life expectancy at birth was about 38 back then.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Herainestold » Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:58 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:23 am


Life expectancy at birth was about 38 back then.
What was it for males?

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Herainestold » Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:04 pm

Wouldn't it be great if a crowd of females "Colstoned" the Wollstonecraft statue?


Build a better, more inclusive, more female centered monument to Mary Wollstonecraft.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:23 pm

Herainestold wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:58 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:23 am


Life expectancy at birth was about 38 back then.
What was it for males?
Oddly, life expectancy for women was a little longer than for men, even back then.

Some interesting reading at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expe ... ifferences and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_survival_paradox
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:28 pm

Herainestold wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:04 pm
Wouldn't it be great if a crowd of females "Colstoned" the Wollstonecraft statue?


Build a better, more inclusive, more female centered monument to Mary Wollstonecraft.
Well, this one was designed by a female artist, commissioned by a group of females, and depicts a female, so I'm not that this is just an issue of female representation.

It's also true that most of the people I've seen objecting to it have been female.

So I think in this particular case you might need to think about how to develop a design and commissioning process that was somehow more inclusive of the diversity of opinions within females, because clearly in this case the females that were involved have come up with something that some number of other females don't like or understand. I tentatively suggest that in this case an angry mob might not be the best method for soliciting that input - boobies aren't as reviled as the slave trade.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by EACLucifer » Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:43 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:23 pm
Herainestold wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:58 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:23 am


Life expectancy at birth was about 38 back then.
What was it for males?
Oddly, life expectancy for women was a little longer than for men, even back then.

Some interesting reading at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expe ... ifferences and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_survival_paradox
It usually is.

About the only time/place I can think of offhand that had it the other way round was Afghanistan pre-2001, because the Taliban specifically blocked women from receiving medical care by banning women from becoming doctors and also banning the vast majority of male female interactions and enforcing it in horrifying fashion.

Some of it is probably biological, and some cultural. Patriachy is not as simple as men favoured in all situations compared to women, and the same beliefs that restricted and commodified women lead to a perception of men as more disposable. The Factory Acts and Mines and Collieries Act, for example, place greater restrictions on employing women in certain dangerous jobs with the aim of protecting women, but at the same time reducing their opportunities for certain types of (generally hellish) work. Industrial accidents overwhelmingly kill men (97% last year), and men are the majority of combat deaths.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Woodchopper » Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:58 am

Another statue, clothed but not tied to a specific era because the abstraction makes it timeless.
21A94871-84B5-4DAD-882D-DCEC887D68C0.jpeg
21A94871-84B5-4DAD-882D-DCEC887D68C0.jpeg (259.85 KiB) Viewed 158 times
It’s from Prestonpans in East Lothian, to commemorate the murder of women falsely accused of being witches.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by discovolante » Sun Nov 15, 2020 12:42 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:58 am
Another statue, clothed but not tied to a specific era because the abstraction makes it timeless.

21A94871-84B5-4DAD-882D-DCEC887D68C0.jpeg

It’s from Prestonpans in East Lothian, to commemorate the murder of women falsely accused of being witches.
And nearby, Jackie Crookston, associated with the massacre of Tranent:
download (1).jpeg
download (1).jpeg (10.29 KiB) Viewed 124 times
Not abstract / timeless in that sense but I think her stance is fairly clearly representative of 'the people'...
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Tessa K » Sun Nov 15, 2020 1:15 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:58 am
Another statue, clothed but not tied to a specific era because the abstraction makes it timeless.

21A94871-84B5-4DAD-882D-DCEC887D68C0.jpeg

It’s from Prestonpans in East Lothian, to commemorate the murder of women falsely accused of being witches.
That's excellent.

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