Eleanor Rathbone, one of Liverpool’s greatest political figures, is to be celebrated in an artwork which marks three of her greatest campaigns.
Artist Lulu Quinn has been selected to produce the artwork which will be located in the walled garden of Greenbank Park, formerly the estate of the Rathbone family.
Her work will focus on the written word, cut out of corten steel sheets, and will feature three quotations taken from Eleanor’s writings about women’s suffrage, the family allowance bill and her campaigns for the rights of refugees.
She was chosen after there had been a great deal of interest in the commission. Her artwork will make a significant contribution to the national “Remembering Eleanor Rathbone” campaign marking the 70th anniversary of her death.
Lulu Quinn has extensive experience of working on innovative public artworks throughout the country.
She said: “I wanted to use Eleanor Rathbone’s words to animate the garden. In the current political climate her words are the voice of reason and rationality. They will not date and are part of an on-going dialogue for generations.”
Greenbank Councillor Laura Robertson-Collins, said: “We were delighted to be able to appoint an artist with a national reputation such as Lulu Quinn for this artwork.
“Eleanor Rathbone was an inspirational figure and now her words are going to be a permanent feature in Greenbank Park.
“It is only fitting that in this anniversary year some of her greatest campaigns should be recognized in this way.”
Eleanor Rathbone (1872-46) grew up in Greenbank House, now part of the Liverpool University estate, into a family with a tradition of political and social campaigning in the city. Her father and grandfather were Liberal MPs in the city.
Eleanor attended Oxford University but, as a woman, was not allowed to graduate. She was the first woman to be elected to the city council and represented Granby from 1909 to 1934. In 1929 she was elected as an independent MP for the Combined Universities seat, a position she held until her death.
She was associated with many campaigns for women’s rights and education, and for social justice. She campaigned against child marriage and FGM in the colonies, and later worked tirelessly to save Jewish and other refugees in Europe.
Most notably, despite the opposition of many male MPs, she was responsible for the introduction of family allowances (now child benefit) to be paid directly to mothers.
• The artwork, which will cost £10,000, will be funded through a number of sources including public subscription.
Pictured: Lulu Quinn at Greenbank Park with local councillors Laura Robertson-Collins and Jamie Roberts.