NEWS
17/07/2020 8:00 AM AEST

Sculpture Of Black Lives Matter Protester Jen Reid Removed From Edward Colston Plinth

Bristol mayor says decision was not about Reid but "about taking down a statue of a London-based artist who came and put it up without permission".

A sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protester that was erected to replace a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in the UK’s Bristol has been taken down by authorities. 

The sculpture – which was designed by artist Marc Quinn – showed protester Jen Reid giving the Black Power symbol, as she was pictured doing after the Colston statue was torn down during a march in June

But just 24 hours after it was erected on Wednesday, the sculpture – entitled A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) – was removed by Bristol City Council, who said it would be held at a museum until Quinn collected or donated it. 

It comes after Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said that it was up for locals to decide what should go on the plinth where Colston once stood. 

“The future of the plinth and what is installed on it must be decided by the people of Bristol,” he said in a statement. 

“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.” 

In a tweet, Rees said that anything else put up on the plinth without permission would also be removed. 

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live on Thursday, he said the decision was not about taking down a statue of Reid, describing her as a “very impressive woman”. 

“This is about taking down a statue of a London-based artist who came and put it up without permission,” he said. 

Rees said when he spoke to sculptor Marc Quinn, the artist was unaware that the toppling of the Colston statue also caused damage to the grave of Scipio Africanus – a memorial to an enslaved African man. 

“If you’re going to do something, you need to do it with awareness and a full knowledge of the context in which you’re doing it,” Rees said. 

PA
Jen Reid poses in front of her black resin and steel statue titled A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, by Marc Quinn, where it is installed on the vacant Edward Colston plinth in Bristol city centre.

On Wednesday, Reid – the subject of Quinn’s sculpture – said creating the piece was important “as it helps keep the journey towards racial justice and equity moving”. 

Black lives matter everyday, she said. 

“This sculpture is about making a stand for my mother, for my daughter, for Black people like me. It’s about Black children seeing it up there. 

“It’s something to feel proud of, to have a sense of belonging, because we actually do belong here and we’re not going anywhere.”