In January 2018 I was commissioned by the Emily Davison Memorial Committee to produce a life size portrait figure of Emily Wilding Davison for the centre of Epsom. Emily, a prominent suffragette, was hit by the King’s horse on Derby Day and died four days later in Epsom Cottage Hospital. After extensive research, help from historians, drawings, and photographs using a member of Epsom Players as my model in correct clothing, I produced a quarter-size maquette of the proposed figure of Emily, which was used as the central piece in all the fundraising for the full-size sculpture, which took until June 2020 to reach target.
Emily is depicted as a kind, very approachable woman. She was strong minded and fought for the rights of women to receive the vote and she was very well-liked, had a great sense of humour, loved children, poetry, writing, dancing and walking. She also spoke fluent French and had two university degrees. Although she had a smile that could light up a room, she had several teeth knocked out during prison force-feeding and a slightly paralysed face, so it was not appropriate to show a bold smile. Therefore, Emily is sitting looking with interest at whoever sits beside her, with her hand held in a gesture of welcome expressing something she is speaking about.
People leave flowers beside Emily. Children and Adults stop to spend time with her, hold her hand and read about her on the plaque on the ground beside her.
A sculpture should tell a story, be approachable and enable people to learn more about that person. Emily wears the hat she wore on that fateful day at the races. Beside her are three of her favourite books and her mortarboard, worn when she marched with the suffragettes. A census form is held in her hand to commemorate her bold act of hiding in the houses of parliament on census day. On her jacket is her hunger strike medal, with 7 bands representing her 7 terms of imprisonment, her Holloway badge and her suffragette badge.