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Mysterious Banksy-style graffiti welcomed by Newington Green statue campaigners

18:13 15 March 2013

Campaigners with Mary Wollstonecraft graffiti in Newington Green. Picture: Dieter Perry

Campaigners with Mary Wollstonecraft graffiti in Newington Green. Picture: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

A mysterious Banksy-style mural has boosted a campaign calling for a statue to one of the icons of feminism.

The stencil image depicting 18th century writer Mary Wollstonecraft – one of the founders of feminism – appeared on the side of the Unitarian Chapel in Newington Green on Sunday morning.

Campaigners have been lobbying for a statue of Wollstonecraft in the middle of the green for some time.

The mural, which is the work of street artist Stewy – whose identity is unknown – emerged as events were staged in Newington Green to raise money for the statue and to celebrate International Women’s Day, which was last Friday.

Andy Pakula, minister of the New Unity congregation based at the chapel, said: “I hope we can leave it here because we think it’s fabulous. There’s different issues about street art, but she’s our guiding spirit.

“You’ve seen in the US where images of Jesus appear on toasted cheese sandwiches, well for us this is about the best that could happen to have Mary show up.”

The Mary on the Green campaign, which is spearheaded by the Newington Green Action Group, is attempting to raise £260,000 to fund the project.

In 2011, an image of Wollstonecraft was beamed onto Westminster Palace to raise awareness for the campaign.

Mr Pakula added: “She’s inspired us to work for justice in the world and we absolutely support the campaign for a statue. We would like to see a Mary Wollstonecraft centre for feminist studies in Newington Green one day.”

Wollstonecraft, who wrote many important works including A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, was a key figure in a group of radical thinkers centred around Newington Green in the 18th century, and she also ran a school there.

Writer Bee Rowlatt, 41, who is backing the campaign and recently published a chapter about Wollstonecraft in a new book titled 50 Shades Of Feminism, said: “It’s just unbelievable that there’s no permanent memorial to this incredible woman.

“The mural is really inspiring. She’s right there life-size on a building where she used to go.

“We feel like she’s appeared among us and we hope this is a small step towards getting the memorial.”

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