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The sculpture represents Seacole marching defiantly forward into an oncoming wind, as if confronting head-on some of the personal resistance she had constantly to battle. She carries her bag of medications and poultices towards the scene of battle. Though she would normally have worn a bonnet or straw hat and liked to sport ribbons and bright colours, these have been pared away to leave her marching bareheaded into the fray. Behind the figure stands a vertical bronze disc, cast from an image of the earth on or near the site where she established the British Hotel in the Crimea. The disc performs both practical and symbolic functions. The disc works symbolically in a number of ways. Not only does its startling verticality and comparative blankness communicate to the viewer that this is clearly a sculpture from our own time rather than a mere pastiche of nineteenth-century statuary, it also works to put Mary Seacole in the context of her time and place.
Mary Seacole (1805–1881)
bronze, Cumbrian black slate & Portland stone
H 490 x W (?) x D (?) cm
commissioned by the Mary Seacole Trust
The Mary Seacole Trust
The Mary Seacole Trust
30th June 2016
at all times
inscribed into a slate panel set into the floor in front of the statue: MARY SEACOLE / Nurse of the Crimean War / 1805-1888 / Wherever the need arises / on whatever distant shore / I ask no higher or greater privilege / than to minister to it.; inscribed into a slate panel set into the floor behind the disc: THIS BRONZE DISC BEARS AN IMPRESSION / OF THE GROUND TAKEN FROM THE SITE IN CRIMEA / WHERE JAMAICAN NURSE MARY SEACOLE MINISTERED / TO BRITISH SOLDIERS DURING THE WAR OF 1853 – 1856 / I trust that England will not forget one who nursed her sick, / who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them and who / performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead / SIR WILLIAM HOWARD RUSSELL, WAR CORRESPONDENT, THE TIMES 1857; inscribed into the stone base of the disc: Sculptor MARTIN JENNINGS / Founder PANGOLIN EDITIONS / 2016