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Statue of Black Lives Matter protester on Colston plinth is removed by Bristol Council

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·4-min read
A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, by prominent British sculptor Marc Quinn, which has been installed in Bristol on the site of the fallen statue of the slave trader Edward Colston, is removed from the plinth and loaded into a recycling and skip hire lorry by contractors.
The Black Lives Matter statue installed in Bristol is removed from the plinth and loaded into a recycling and skip hire lorry by contractors. (PA)

A statue of a Black Lives Matter protester that replaced a sculpture of slave trader Edward Colston has been removed.

Workers turned up to the site of the plinth in Bristol at around 5.20am on Thursday morning to take down the statue and transport it away.

Bristol City Council confirmed it was removed at their request, adding: "It will be held at our museum for the artist to collect or donate to our collection.”

Following the statue’s removal, Bristol mayor Marvin Rees told BBC Radio 5 Live that “running around provoking debate without any awareness of the potential consequences of that debate is not OK”.

He said: “We have to approach things with wisdom, which is why we’ve set out a process that revolves around a history commission telling the full story of Bristol so that the city is much more informed and is in a better position to collectively decide who it wants to honour and where.”

Contractors prepare to remove A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, by prominent British sculptor Marc Quinn, which has been installed in Bristol on the site of the fallen statue of the slave trader Edward Colston.
Contractors prepare to remove A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, by British sculptor Marc Quinn. (PA)

Rees said how race was navigated in the UK was a “delicate balance”.

“It’s increasingly delicate for me because every time I talk about race, as a black politician, I’m boxed in – all I do is talk about race,” he told the programme.

“The irony is 200-odd years or 300 years after Colston died he’s coming back to get this first black politician.”

A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, by prominent British sculptor Marc Quinn, which has been installed in Bristol on the site of the fallen statue of the slave trader Edward Colston, is removed from the plinth and loaded into a recycling and skip hire lorry.
The Black Lives Matter scupture is removed from the plinth and loaded into a recycling and skip hire lorry. (PA)

The statue, by artist Marc Quinn, was put up in the early hours of Wednesday.

Quinn's lifesize black resin and steel piece of Jen Reid was inspired after seeing a photo of her standing on the empty plinth following the toppling of the Colston statue during a Black Lives Matter protest in June.

The sculpture, entitled A Surge of Power (Jen Reid), was installed without the knowledge or consent of Bristol City Council.

On Wednesday, Rees tweeted: "I understand people want expression, but the statue has been put up without permission.

"Anything put on the plinth outside of the process we've put in place will have to be removed.”

Rees had previously said that any decision on how the plinth should be used would be decided democratically through consultation.

In a statement issued after the sculpture was erected, he said change needs to happen at a pace that "brings people with us”.

"The sculpture that has been installed today was the work and decision of a London-based artist," Rees said. "It was not requested and permission was not given for it to be installed.”

Reid recalled climbing on to the plinth after the Colston statue was pulled down, and spontaneously raising her arm in a Black Power salute.

"It was like an electrical charge of power was running through me," the stylist said.

"My immediate thoughts were for the enslaved people who died at the hands of Colston and to give them power.

The empty plinth where A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, by prominent British sculptor Marc Quinn, was installed in Bristol on the site of the fallen statue of the slave trader Edward Colston, is now removed.
The empty plinth where A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020 stood. (PA)

"I wanted to give George Floyd power, I wanted to give power to black people like me who have suffered injustices and inequality. A surge of power out to them all.”

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

A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, by prominent British sculptor Marc Quinn, which has been installed in Bristol on the site of the fallen statue of the slave trader Edward Colston.
The statue was installed in Bristol on the site of the fallen statue of the slave trader Edward Colston on Wednesday. (PA)

It was dragged to the harbourside, where it was thrown in the water at Pero's Bridge – named in honour of enslaved man Pero Jones who lived and died in the city.

Artist Quinn said his statue was not put on the plinth as a "permanent solution”.