Street artist Stewy’s Mary Wollstonecraft
Published: 22 December, 2016
by JOE COOPER
A PIECE of street art on New Unity church in Newington Green is the first to be admitted to the Government Art Collection.
The image of pioneering feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft will join works by artists John Constable, William Hogarth, Barbara Hepworth and Lucian Freud.
The graffiti stencil was created by street artist Stewy in March 2013.
The work is a gift from Mary on the Green, a campaign group seeking to site a memorial at Newington Green and an educational trust celebrating Wollstonecraft’s legacy.
She is best known for her seminal book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published in 1792, which called for women’s political representation a century before the suffragette movement. As a young schoolmistress, Wollstonecraft used to attend the New Unity church. Its radical sermons shaped her political stance.
Stewy said: “I hope to raise people’s awareness of street art and of Mary Wollstonecraft. Her legacy represents something that crosses all party boundaries, gender and class.”
Bee Rowlatt, of Mary on the Green campaign, said: “Wollstonecraft was a pioneer in many ways, not only as the foremother of feminism but also as an educator and human rights champion. This is an important step in recognising her legacy.”
Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader and shadow culture secretary, said: “This image of Mary Wollstonecraft, the founder of feminism and an early voice for equality, is particularly powerful and it is fitting that a pioneering campaigner like her is the subject of the first piece of street art to be owned by the nation.
“I am a supporter of the Mary on the Green campaign and I hope it will not be too much longer before we see a memorial to Mary and to other important women in our nation's history.”