Stunning Silhouette Outlines Women’s Roles in War
6 November 2018 Local News
A stunning steel silhouette representing a local legend’s journey towards pacifism and the women’s suffrage movement is being unveiled at an award winning park in the lead-up to Remembrance Sunday.
The poignant window scene, adjacent to the rose garden at Brampton Park, features author, feminist and war nurse Vera Brittain whose initial idealistic views changed dramatically as a result of her traumatic experiences during the First World War.
Vera, born in Newcastle in 1893, helped wounded soldiers of the Western Front by volunteering as a nurse in London, Malta and France. Her best-selling 1933 memoir, Testament of Youth, describes the devastating impact of war on a generation and refers to fiancé Roland, two close friends and much-loved brother, Edward, who lost their lives in battle.
She went on to play an active role in the Peace Pledge Union’s food relief campaign, worked as a fire warden and spoke out against the allied saturation bombing of German cities in the Second World War.
The steel sculpture, commissioned by the Borough Council, is one of a series designed by internationally renowned sculptor Andy Edwards and made by PM Training, with help from engineering apprentices, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. It’s linked to Newcastle’s Britain in Bloom campaign and has been funded through external sources and sponsorship.
Luke Steadman, 17, helped to make the fantastic 8ft piece following his involvement in the production of a steel hare sculpture for Blackfriars roundabout in Newcastle.
Bicycles, a new technology in the war years, became an enormous cultural and political force as well as an emblem for women’s rights. They gave a new, practical method of independence. In the silhouette Vera, positioned on the far right, is standing next to Emily Hobhouse, the only known British civilian to visit Germany to try and negotiate peace. Some women were finally given the right to vote – after many years of campaigning by suffragettes – in 1918 in recognition of the role they played during the First World War.
Nursery children from the Giggles & Wiggles nursery are helping to position 250 plastic poppies, funded by Cllr. Trevor Johnson, along a footpath between another metal sculpture of Vera Brittain and the wood carving of heroic Wolstanton soldier Tom Brown Tivey.
Council Leader Simon Tagg said: “This moving silhouette is absolutely stunning and leaves another lasting legacy of the sacrifices made during the Great War.
“Vera Brittain was such an inspirational person – she sacrificed so much and achieved many things in her life – so it’s great to pay tribute to her in this milestone year. There is no better place than Brampton Park to sit, reflect and remember.
“Andy, PM Training and Luke have done another fantastic job. I welcome the opportunity for young apprentices to develop their skills.”
Phil Brown, PM Training’s Artworks Manager, commented: “This was a fascinating project for a young apprentice to get behind, not only for the technical work involved, but for the wealth of local knowledge that we both gained while working on it.
“We think it’s wonderful that this memorial to Vera Brittain is going on display for all to see, and we’re delighted that it’s only a stone’s throw from PM Training’s group head office on the Brampton.”