This Week in London – Mary Wollstonecraft controversy; ‘Faint Signals’; National Gallery’s new digital partnership; and, have your say on City of London landmarks…

A controversial new statue commemorating feminist icon Mary Wollstonecraft was unveiled in Newington Green, near where Wollstonescraft lived and opened a girls’ school, in the city’s north this week. Designed by British artist Maggi Hambling, A Sculpture for Mary Wollstonecraft depicts a small nude female figure – described by those behind the campaign for the statue as “Everywoman, her own person, ready to confront the world” – rising out of other, intermingled, female forms below. Hambling said she wanted the sculpture to reflect Wollstonecraft’s spirit, rather than her likeness. The statue’s unveiling is the culmination of a 10 year campaign to see a statue for Wollstonecraft led by author Bee Rowlatt. The statue has already been the target of protestors who have reportedly used black tape, COVID masks, and a T-shirt to cover it up.

Images of Faint Signals on screen by Invisible Flock

A new work set in an imagined Yorkshire forest and looking at how natural sound has changed over the last 50 years has gone online this week. Commissioned by the British Library, Faint Signals is the work of Yorkshire-based interactive arts studio Invisible Flock and allows people to explore Yorkshire’s flora, fauna, and wildlife – both past and present. Launched to mark World Science Day on Tuesday, the work can be visited until 2nd January. Head here faintsignals.io.

‘Butterflies, Moths and Insects with Sprays of Common Hawthorn and Forget-Me-Not’ by Jan van Kessel the Elder (1626 – 1679), 1654, Oil on Wood  © The National Gallery, London 

The National Gallery has launched a new collaboration with camera maker Nikon to showcase the gallery’s works and “explore the synergies between photography and fine art”. In the first collaboration of its kind, the “digital content partnership” will see the gallery work with Nikon to produce a range of online content over the next year. This kicks off with an exploration of Jan van Kessel the Elder’s 1654 work, Butterflies, Moths and Insects with Sprays of Common Hawthorn and Forget-Me-Not, under the Picture of the Month series (the concept of ‘Picture of the Month’ dates back to 1942, when a single painting was returned to the gallery each month from the disused Welsh slate mine where the collection was kept for safety during World War II). The painting is explored in depth in a range of ways on the gallery’s website including through two short films. Further online films, talks and events are planned. For more on the Picture of the Month, head to the National Gallery website.

Londoners still have two weeks to have their say on what should happen to statues and other landmarks in the City of London which have links to slavery and historic racism. The City of London Corporation said it has received more than 800 responses since launching the consultative exercise in September in which it’s asking people to give their views on which landmarks – including statues, street and building names – they think are a problem, and what action they think should be taken. Among those monuments which have been mentioned to date are statues at Guildhall depicting former Lord Mayor William Beckford and MP and philanthropist Sir John Cass, both of whom profited from the slave trade. In September, the Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School in the City announced it was changing its name to The Aldgate School to break the link with its controversial founder. Head to  www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/historiclandmarksconsultation by 24th November to take part.

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Around London…

• A new online portal showing the history of women through their relationship to buildings around the UK – including in London – has been launched. Visible in Stone: A history of women through buildings, 1850-1950 is the work of English Heritage in conjunction with the London Metropolitan University Special Collections, The Women’s Library and TUC Library Collection. Among the collection of historic photographs, posters and advertisements are the stories of many London buildings – everything from the 18th century Unitarian Chapel at Newington Green in the city’s north where women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft found “support and stimulation” when founding her school, to the Harrod’s Shoe Lounge as it looked in 1919, and the first public conveniences built for women (the Ladies’ Lavatory Company opened its first, near Oxford Circus, in 1884). English Heritage is also asking people to upload images of buildings that played a role in the lives of their grandmothers. To do so, head to www.flickr.com/groups/visibleinstone.

• Milestones passed in the past week include the 15oth celebration of London’s Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. The charity was founded in October 1860 by Mary Tealby after she found an abandoned puppy and commenced caring for it and other lost dogs in a disused stableyard in Holloway. Writer Charles Dickens was among it’s early supporters. The home has cared for more than 3.1 million animals since it was established (it started caring for cats in 1883) and in 2009 took in more than 10,000 dogs and cats. For more information, see www.battersea.org.uk.

• Lastly, London’s free Metro newspaper is holding a ‘Postcards from the Future’ competition showing images of London as it might become should our worst fears about the impact of climate change be realised. View a gallery of stunning images (or find out how to enter) here.