Statue of Black Lives Matter protester erected on Colston plinth

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By Louie Bell, News Investigations Editor

The sculpture was placed on the plinth in the early hours of this morning.

The statue, with its arm raised in solidarity with the thousands who joined protests five weeks ago, stands where a previous statue of slave owner Edward Colston sat until it was removed by protestors on the 7th of June.

The statue sits atop the previously empty plinth where a statue of Edward Colston was torn down five weeks ago | Epigram - Emma Fernandez Schmidt

Titled ‘A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020’, the sculpture is based on Jen Reid, a protestor who was photographed in a similar position atop the empty plinth during widespread protests in June following the death of George Floyd.

The artist behind the statue, Marc Quinn, has noted that the erection of the statue did not have formal consent and was a ‘temporary public installation’.

Accompanying the statue was a cardboard sign reading ‘black lives still matter’, and a small piece of graffiti on Colston’s memorial plaque attached to the plinth adjusting it to read: ‘Rejected By Citizens of Bristol’.

It features a recreation of Jen Reid, a BLM protester who stood atop the plinth during worldwide protests | Epigram - Emma Fernandez Schmidt 

Following the installation, Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees released a statement emphasising the role of Bristol's community in deciding what is to be done with the plinth:

'My relentless commitment is to build a city for all Bristiolians, with all our differences. To this end, the future of the plinth and what is installed on it must be decided by the people of Bristol.

'This will be critical to building a city that is home to those who are elated at the statue being pulled down, those who sympathise with its removal but are dismayed at how it happened and those who feel that in its removal, they’ve lost a piece of the Bristol they know and therefore themselves.'

'The future of the plinth and what is installed on it must be decided by the people of Bristol' - Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

'Our challenge is to take the city far. The art of building our city will be finding a way to live with our difference so that even where people do not get what they want, they know they live in a city that is their one and respects them.

'The sculpture that has been installed today was the work and decision of London based artist. It was not requested and permission was not given for it to be installed.

'We have set out a process to manage our journey. We have established a history commission which help us tell our full city history. As we learn this fuller history including the part played by black people, women, the working class, trade unions, and children among others, we will be in a better position to understand who we are, how we got here and who we wish to honour.

'Crucial to our heritage has been the harbour and the docks, manufacturing and industry, research and innovation, transport, slum clearances, housing, modern gentrification and faith. As the commission shares this information, the city will decide on city memorials and the future of the plinth.'

Small crowds have gathered at the site, with many taking photos of the new sculpture in the city centre.

One social media user labelled it as ‘astonishingly beautiful’, with another saying that it ‘both looks better and better represents this city, by far, than the manky old Colston statue ever did.’

No council-endorsed decision has been made as to the future of the statue, leading to suggestions about its future from local Bristolians all the way to world-famous artists such as Banksy.

Featured: Emma Fernandez Schmidt


What do you think of the new sculpture? Let us know in the comments!

AUTHOR

Louie Bell

News Investigations Editor | 3rd Year Geography