The local authority has removed a statue of a Black Lives Matter protester in Bristol, England, secretly installed overnight on the plinth where a monument to a slave trader previously stood.
“This morning we removed the sculpture. It will be held in our museum for the artist to collect or donate to our collection,” the Bristol City Council tweeted Thursday.
Jen Reid poses next to the statue on Wednesday. Credit: Matthew Horwood / Getty Images
The mayor of the city, Marvin Rees, had previously said that “the future of the socket and what is installed in it must be decided by the people of Bristol”.
“This will be critical to building a city that houses those who are elated by the statue that was demolished, those who sympathize with its removal but are dismayed at how it happened and those who feel that in their removal, they have lost a piece of Bristol that know and therefore themselves, “he added in a statement on Wednesday.
Quinn’s artwork depicted Reid with his fist raised in a Black Power salute, mimicking a June 7 image of her on the empty plinth where the original Colston statue once stood.
After contacting Reid, the artist produced a life-size sculpture of the moment using black resin. In a press release released Wednesday, he said the sculpture “is an embodiment and amplification of Jen’s ideas and experiences, and of the past, present and her hope for a better future.”
Protesters called for the removal of the statue of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes in front of Oriel Cllege at Oxford University, two days after the Colston statue was removed. Credit: ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP / AFP via Getty Images
The work, officially titled “A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020”, was intended to be temporary. The artist confirmed that he did not receive permission from the authorities to erect the statue. In the event the artwork is sold, Quinn said the proceeds will be donated to two charities, chosen by Reid, that promote the inclusion of black history in the school curriculum.
But sculpture has caused a split in the art world, with some suggesting that the intervention of a London-based white artist does not help the broader Black Lives Matter movement.
British artist Thomas J Price, who was commissioned to create a public work of art in London in honor of the Windrush generation, wrote on Twitter that Quinn had created a “votive statue for appropriation.”
But the author Bernardine Evaristo praised the work and suggested that it be erected elsewhere. “Now she has to find a public place. If Bristol doesn’t have the guts, I nominate Brixton,” she said on Twitter.
The protesters’ actions sparked a national conversation in the UK about what should be done with statues, monuments and street names dedicated to slave traders and imperialists across the country.
Colston’s original monument, which authorities pulled out of a river after being dumped there by protesters, will be placed in a museum alongside the protest posters.