Gone in 24 Hours: New BLM Statue Replacing Toppled Bronze Removed, Loaded into Council Rubbish Truck

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JULY 15: A sign saying "Marc Quinn loves money not blacks" is placed on a new sculpture, by local artist Marc Quinn, of Black Lives Matter protestor Jen Reid on the plinth where the Edward Colston statue used to stand on July 15, 2020 in Bristol, England. …
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Bristol city council used a hydraulic arm recycling lorry to remove a newly installed statue of a BLM activist placed on the now-vacant plinth that once held a bronze of Edward Colston, a city merchant and slave trade profiteer that was pulled down by an angry mob in June.

The new statue, created by Marc Quinn through a process of computer modelling and 3d printing as opposed to traditional sculpture, was installed in the early hours of Wednesday morning in Bristol city centre. The piece, by the London-based artist, did not have authorisation from the city council and despite the extensive press attention it got, the local authority moved swiftly to take it down.

The near-instant removal of the work defies the clearly expressed expectations of some that the statue could become a permanent feature. Indeed, the Press Association reported the remarks of Jen Reid, the BLM activist featured in the figure on Wednesday, when she said: “It’s just incredible…This is going to continue the conversation. I can’t see it coming down in a hurry.”

In all, the work lasted 25 hours in place and has been removed by truck to the city’s museum where, the city said, the artist can decide to claim the work back or donate it to the museum.

Explaining the decision to remove, the mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said the future of the now-empty plinth would be one for the people of Bristol only. Rather caustically, he said of the artist who took it upon himself to install a work there: “The sculpture that has been installed today was the work and decision of a London based artist. It was not requested, and permission was not given for it to be installed.”

That sentiment was echoed by an unknown Bristolian on Wednesday when a hand-written cardboard sign appeared at the base of the statue that read simply: “Mark [sic] Quinn Loves Money, Not Blacks.” UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph also noted the friction between regional capital Bristol and national capital London in the imposition of the work, when it described Quinn as a “wealthy white artist based in London [who assumed] the right to impost his art on the people of Bristol without asking them first.”

Several statues and installations have now vied for attention on the Colston plinth since the original Victorian bronze statue of a local Georgian merchant, parliamentarian, and philanthropist who made a fortune through the trade of slaves, fruit, wine, and textiles was pulled down and rolled into the harbour by a mob in June.

First off the mark was a crude racial stereotype of working-class white Britons placed next to the plinth just days after the statue came down. Depicting an overweight, bald male inside a dustbin, the work appeared to invoke the saying ‘get in the bin’, which refers to people and opinions perceived to be so awful they need to be disposed of.

Last week, a ‘statue’ of notorious paedophile and UK media celebrity Jimmy Savile appeared on the plinth. Reflecting the claim that the knowledge of his sexual attacks on children was widespread in his own lifetime and the fact he was a favoured performer at the state broadcaster, a sign with the statue read: “None of them stopped me, and your license paid for it. The BBC. Turning a blind eye since 1922.”

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