The Anne Lister Monument

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Cover image: Anne Lister Monument, Shibden Hall (photo by WISA)

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The Anne Lister Monument

The latest tribute to Anne Lister was unveiled earlier in September 2022 at Shibden Park. And we went to find the Italian touch in it!

The opening ceremony saw Helena Whitbread cutting the ribbon of this stonework, which is now part of the permanent dry stone walling exhibition at Shibden Park. Two out of the six women who created this monument are Italians: Antonella Tiozzo and Serena Cattaneo shared with us some highlights of this work.

Antonella Tiozzo is a sculptor. Raised in the Veneto region, she's now based in Liguria, in Northwestern Italy.

“I had no idea who Anne Lister was before being invited to join this specific project, but the more I learned about her (also through the Anne Lister Italia website) the more I fell fascinated by her.”.

Antonella is the artist who carved the three monoliths, inspired by Anne, her life, and her land: “The concept of time passing is crucial, and I have declined it differently in each of these sandstone blocks. The wheel recalls Anne's carriage and her travels obviously, but also the many carts carrying stones and coal on these grounds in her time; a leafless oak branch lays next to it, while in the other monolith the branch is full of leaves, as it happens with changing seasons, and sits next to a pocket watch, a very important item to Anne Lister! On the third monolith, the central piece, I carved Anne's funerary hatchet, inspired by the original one kept right here at Shibden Hall, adding on the side of the block a coded quote from Anne “Let not your spirit turn coward” (Friday 16 May 1834 SH:7/ML/E/17/0033).

Serena Cattaneo (left) with one of the WISA workshop participants (photo: WISA)

The central monolith of the Anne Lister Monument, Shibden Hall (photo: WISA)

Clockwise from bottom left Emma Knowles (UK/Australia), Hilary Dees (USA), Serena Cattaneo (ITA) of WISA, along with Helena Whitbread on opening day (photo: WISA)

These three sculptures are connected by a dry stone wall created by Serena Cattaneo. She’s based in Liguria too but originally comes from Lombardia. She’s a professional master dry stone waller, and making more visible and popular amongst women this job and its art is a crucial matter for her. “The dry stone wall we have raised in this monument was created by using stones donated by Simon Lamb, who had them on his land and were part of another dry stone wall, and who knows to how many others before. They have a past, and you can see layers of history in them since a new stone would be clear and these are almost black. Their blackening started likely in Anne Lister’s years, when these valleys started being scattered with industrial chimneys, thus affecting the air quality”. Visitors who will examine the monument more carefully will find some messages inspired by Anne Lister also between these stones, placed by Serena and the other WISA members who created this piece.

“The final result is very faithful to the original idea we had when we started the work, but the atmosphere here at Shibden Hall is special. Creating this piece dedicated to Anne Lister while actually being in her home really enriched the original concept, and inspired some details that could only be born here, and with this group of people. As an example, the pocket watch signs 5.06 (or, as Ann would write, 5 6/..), and it is a tribute to the 6 people involved in the project since the beginning and to the 5 of them who have been working at the monument here at Shibden Hall.”

One of the moments of the WISA workshop at Shibden Hall. In the center, giving the back to the camera, Antonella Tiozzo (photo: WISA)

Both Antonela Tiozzo and Serena Cattaneo are founding members of WISA - Women In Stone Alliance, an international association of women who made stoneworking more than just their job: the expression, their art, their passion. During the creation of the Anne Lister Monument at Shibden Hall, WISA also carried out a permanent workshop that lasted about three weeks and was attended by 36 women who have been introduced and trained in stone craftsmanship by the WISA members who gathered in Halifax: besides Antonella and Serena there were also Emma Knowles (Australia), Louise Price (Ireland), Hilary Dees (USA), while Wendy Gillet couldn’t be here from Australia, although she's been on board ever since the whole project of this monument started.

The Anne Lister Monument was created by WISA - Women In Stone Alliance between August and September 2022, thanks to the support of Calderdale Council, David Griffiths (who was in charge for the design and project management), and Simon Lumb (who donated the old stones for the wall and helped the construction), while the three monoliths were donated by Traditional Stone, Wakefield.

Written by Lucia Falzari