BLM statue removed from Bristol plinth

A BLM statue put up to replace that of a slave trader has been removed in Bristol.
A BLM statue put up to replace that of a slave trader has been removed in Bristol.

Bristol City Council in the UK has removed a sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protester erected on the plinth where a statue of slave trader Edward Colston used to stand.

Artist Marc Quinn created the life-size black resin and steel piece of Jen Reid after seeing a photo of her standing on the empty plinth following the toppling of the Colston statue in Bristol on June 7.

The sculpture, A Surge Of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, was installed shortly before 4.30am on Wednesday by Quinn's team without the knowledge or consent of Bristol City Council.

At around 5.20am on Thursday, council contractors used webbing straps to hoist the 2.3 metre high piece off the plinth and place it into a skip lorry.

Bristol City Council tweeted: "This morning we removed the sculpture.

"It will be held at our museum for the artist to collect or donate to our collection.

"Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees issued a statement yesterday about the need for a democratic process where the people of Bristol decide the future of the plinth."

Following the toppling of the Colston statue, Rees announced that a commission was being set up to tell a "fuller history" of Bristol.

Any decision on how the plinth should be used would be decided democratically through consultation, he said.

On Wednesday, Rees issued a statement describing the sculpture as "the work and decision of a London-based artist" and said permission was not requested for it to be installed.

During a Facebook Live on Wednesday evening, Rees said the commission would help Bristol decide "what we want to celebrate and who we choose to celebrate".

"Our belief was that that process would put us in a better position as a city to have a discussion, a debate and come to a collective view on what we put on that plinth, if anything," Rees said.

"Putting a statue on that plinth overnight did not come in line with that process and therefore it can't stay," he said.

"It will be protected. It's an incredible piece of work to a very inspirational woman."

The sculpture was created by Quinn after he saw an image on Instagram of Reid standing on the empty plinth with her fist in the air after the Colston statue had been toppled.

Reid described the sculpture as "so important" and said it helped keep the journey towards racial justice moving.

Quinn said the sculpture was not put on the plinth as a "permanent solution" and acknowledged it may only last "a day" or weeks before being removed.

On June 7, protesters on the Black Lives Matter march used ropes to pull the Colston statue from its plinth in the city centre.

It was rolled to the harbourside, where it was thrown in the water.

The city council retrieved the statue on June 11. It will be put on display in a museum with placards from the Black Lives Matter protest at a later date.

Australian Associated Press