Black Lives Matter sculpture of Jen Reid removed from Colston plinth
The sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protester that replaced a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol has been removed just 24 hours after it went up.
Contractors were pictured using ropes and a crane to secure the statue of Jen Reid, who had been photographed standing on the plinth with a raised fist on the day the figure of Colston was removed, at about 5.20am on Thursday morning.
A witness said that the workmen carefully secured the strap before moving the Marc Quinn sculpture, with one saying “don’t break her dress”. It was then lifted into a recycling and skip hire lorry and driven away.
A Bristol city council spokeswoman said: “This morning we removed the sculpture. It will be held at our museum for the artist to collect or donate to our collection.”
BBC Bristol reported that Quinn would be charged with the cost of the removal and that the council said it had received complaints of fly-tipping.
Reid and Quinn have said that any proceeds from the sale of the work will go to two charities chosen by Reid that are devoted to improving the teaching of black history in British schools.
The black resin and steel statue, entitled A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, was put up without the council’s knowledge shortly before 5am on Wednesday by a team under the direction of Quinn. He had said it was not intended to be in place permanently.
Marvin Rees, the mayor of Bristol, told BBC Radio 5 Live that the city was going through an “incredibly delicate time”.
“This is not about taking down a statue of Jen, who is a very impressive woman,” Rees said.
“This is about taking down a statue of a London-based artist who came and put it up without permission.”
Rees said when he spoke to Quinn, the artist was unaware that after the toppling of the Colston statue the grave of Scipio Africanus – a memorial to an enslaved African man – had been vandalised. A message left in chalk near the site read: “Put Colston’s statue back or things will really heat up.”
“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.
The statue of Colston had stood for more than a century, prompting some social media users to say that the council should have allowed the statue of Reid to remain in place for longer before bringing it down.
Tim Burns, a charity worker, said: “Some days I wake up a feel proud to live in Bristol. Other days I feel like we missed the point? The Jen Reid statue didn’t need to be permanent but after procrastinating for years over whether to take down Colston removing this after 24 hours feels unnecessary.”
The author Bernardine Evaristo tweeted: “Now it has to find a public spot. If Bristol doesn’t have the guts, I nominate Brixton.”
Police said on Thursday that no offence had been committed and the statue’s future was a matter for the council. Most passersby in Bristol appeared to approve of the addition to the plinth, with many taking selfies raising a fist in front of it.
There was some tension last night when a group arrived to say the statue should come down, prompting others on the scene to take a knee.
Before the statue came down, Reid and Quinn both said that they viewed its future as being a matter for others to decide. “Whether it’s there for a day or a week or a month, it’s been there,” Reid said.
Quinn said that “once you make an artwork, you have no control over it any more”.