Stand with Hope as life-sized Lego suffragette arrives in Bristol
18 September 2023
A life-sized model of a suffragette named Hope, who is built out of 32,327 LEGO bricks, has gone on display at the University of Bristol. Hope's visit has been facilitated by the PolicyBristol team.
Hope, which took three people 171 hours to build, will be in the foyer of the Wills Memorial Building until 9 October as part of a UK tour.
The public are invited to come and see her and learn about the story of women’s suffrage in the UK.
In the early 20th century, Bristol had one of the highest levels of suffrage activity outside of London. Through Bristol Women’s Voice and Bristol Women’s Commission among others, the city continues to champion gender equality and issues which impact women and girls.
Professor Roberta Guerrina, Director of the Gender Research Centre in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies at the University of Bristol, said: “Hope’s arrival provides an opportunity to reflect on the history of the suffrage movement, consider the current challenges faced by women and showcase the field-leading research at University of Bristol on the impact of gender inequalities on society and the economy.”
Hope was originally commissioned by the UK Parliament in 2018 and stood in the House of Commons before going on tour around the UK. Hope will be on tour throughout the UK in the lead up to 2028, to celebrate the 1928 Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act which gave equal voting rights to all women and men.
The University of Bristol’s history is interwoven with that of Women’s Suffrage. Founded in 1876, the University of Bristol was the first higher education institute in England to admit women on an equal basis to men.
The University’s first female lecturer, Mary Paley, taught classes at University College Bristol until 1881. She was the wife of Alfred Marshall, a ground-breaking economist and Principal of the College. Her fee for teaching was deducted from her husband’s salary.
Across the country, people took sides both for and against the suffrage movement - and Bristol was no different. In 1913, following an arson attack by suffragettes on the Coombe Dingle pavilion, some students from the University retaliated with an assault on the suffragette shop on Park Street.
Despite opposing attitudes to women’s rights nationally, the University of Bristol had several women enrolled as students and working in academic and administrative roles. Women started to play a greater role in the University between the first and second world war, with Helen Wodehouse becoming the first female Chair, one of the first women in any British university to hold such a post.
The Wills Memorial Building, where Hope will be based for the duration of her visit, also hosts a series of 10 portraits in the Great Hall celebrating notable Bristol women who have changed the institution – and, indeed, the world. The portraits were specially commissioned for a 2018 project to mark 100 years since the first women in Britain won the right to vote.
Hope's visit has been facilitated by the PolicyBristol team. PolicyBristol are based in the Division of Research, Enterprise and Innovation and work to enhance the impact of research from across the university on policy and practice at the local, national and international level. You can find out more about the work they do here.
Visitors can share their photos with Hope using the hashtag #StandWithHope on social media.