Sited on Great Victoria Street, Belfast. Originally commissioned by the Department of the Environment, Belfast.
For this commission I was asked to figuratively reflect the social history of the locality, this was described in the brief only in terms of prostitution. They also advised that an approach using caricature would be particularly welcomed.
I was unhappy with this simplistic and offensive take on prostitution and was not willing to represent some women’s experience only in those terms in a permanent public artwork.
My sculpture involved an alternative take on the experience of women in the labour force. Focusing on issues like the lack of equal pay for women and the fact that workers in the home receive no wages, I embedded statistics, text and symbolic objects into the surface of the bronze figures.
My intention was to honour the contribution of women’s work to society, the uncelebrated female often unpaid or badly paid.
I wanted this to be the underlying context surrounding issues regarding women and prostitution. This sculpture became the subject of a bizarre media and political controversy, was banned by Belfast City Council and subsequently recommissioned by a private developer and finally sited in Great Victoria Street, outside the train station.
(Words by Louise Walsh. Louise is a sculptor, lecturer and co-founder of a number of lesbian lines throughout the country)
Siobhan Places of Pride Statue
A short video by Siobhan O’Mahony and Elspeth Vischer on behalf of LGBT Heritage NI can be viewed here