THE full-scale statue of fossil hunter Mary Anning has been unveiled for the first time as it’s prepared to be cast in bronze.
The organisation Mary Anning Rocks, which raised £100,000 for the statue to be erected in Lyme Regis, revealed photos as artist Denise Dutton completed the statue in clay.
It will now be cast in bronze, ready to be erected on Gun Cliff Walk and unveiled on May 21 – 223 years after Mary Anning’s birth.
The statue depicts Mary in full stride, carrying an ammonite and her tools, with her dog Tray at her feet.
The campaign for the statue was led by Dorset schoolgirl Evie Swire who set about fundraising with her mother, Anya Pearson, and was given the backing of high-profile supporters such as author Tracey Chevalier, who wrote ‘Remarkable Creatures’ based on Mary Anning’s life, and broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough.
When Evie started campaigning in 2018 she was just 10 years old.
Evie and her mother travelled to Denise’s studio in Stoke on Trent to see the statue revealed for the first time.
Anya said: “A long curtain sectioned off the studio to keep the cold out, and the anticipation as Denise drew back that curtain to reveal what can only be described as a masterpiece was electrifying. I cannot tell you the feeling Evie, and I had at finally looking into the face of Mary Anning.
“The sculpture is stunning, and after a few tears and several cups of sweet tea, we clicked through to our trustees and committee sign off meeting on Zoom. Everyone agreed – she is beautiful, and Mary can now go off to be cast in bronze.
“One or two areas like Tray’s coat and tail and the base need finishing off, and all the fossils adding, but overall, she is pretty much how she will look once cast in bronze.
“It’s fascinating how soft clay can turn into something so powerful and solid that will last for hundreds of years. At some point, Evie and I will be driving up to the foundry in Wales to see the casting in bronze happen.”
Who was Mary Anning?
Mary was born in Lyme Regis in 1799 to a poor working class family and lived on the site of Lyme Regis Museum, which includes a wing named after the fossil hunter.
She collected and sold fossils from the Lyme Regis and Charmouth area from a young age, and her discoveries included the first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton; the first two nearly complete plesiosaur skeletons; the first pterosaur skeleton located outside of Germany; and fish fossils.
During her lifetime she was not fully accepted in the scientific community because of her gender and class, but Mary is now known as one of the most influential women in the history of science.
Mary died in 1847, aged 47, of breast cancer. A beach hut on Lyme Regis seafront – managed by Axminster and Lyme Regis Cancer Support for the sole use of those affected by cancer – was named after Mary in 2020.
Mary’s grave can be found in the churchyard at St Michael’s Parish Church in Lyme Regis.
She was recently depicted by Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet in the movie ‘Ammonite’, filmed partially in Lyme Regis and Charmouth in March 2019.