Portrait in the NPG
As another dead white military man moves into Traf Square it's satisfying that a black female nurse is the subject of a memorial appeal and competition. Mary Seacole was voted The Greatest Black Briton in a contemporary poll. She had the determination, resourcefulness and guts to travel independently to a warzone, trampling over race and gender barriers way ahead of her time, as she sought to help nurse soldiers in the Crimean War despite being rejected by the British War Office. The memorial will sit in the grounds of St Thomas' Hospital, home to the museum of that other heroine of the Crimea, Florence Nightingale. The shortlisted designs see Mary variously astride a horse, elongated with seats on her feet, and as cones and bricks. There's a proud bust, a delicate structure featuring her profile, a red mesh figure, a plain white statue and a palm tree. See them on display in the window of Coutts & Co on the Strand this week. Comments welcome as are donations.
Last Updated 09 May 2009