Now the city has a completely new figure, which is celebrated on the once empty plinth: a demonstrator.
British artist Marc Quinn has erected a statue depicting a woman whose fist was raised in a Black Power salute where Colston once stood. He based the artwork on a photo by Jen Reid, a Bristol resident who climbed onto the void Pedestal when she returned home from the June demonstration.
The statue stood where there was once a monument to the slave trader Edward Colston. Recognition: Marc Quinn Studio
After contacting the woman in the picture, Jen Reid, the artist produced a life-size sculpture of the moment in black resin. In a press release released on Wednesday, he said that the sculpture is “an embodiment and extension of Jens’ ideas and experiences, as well as the past, present and their hope for a better future.”
“My friend … showed me on Instagram a picture of Jen standing with her fist in a Black Power salute on the base in Bristol, “he said.” My first immediate thought was how incredible it would be to make a sculpture of her at that moment.
“It’s such a powerful picture of a moment that I thought would have to be materialized forever. I contacted Jen on social media to discuss the idea of the sculpture and she told me that she wanted to work together . “
Jen Reid pictured next to the statue. Recognition: Marc Quinn Studio
The work with the official title “A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020” should be temporary. The artist confirmed that he had not received permission from the authorities to erect the statue. Should the artwork be sold, Quinn said profits will be donated to two Reid-selected charities that promote the inclusion of black history in school curricula.
“Jen and I don’t put this sculpture on the pedestal as a permanent solution to what should be there – it’s a spark that we hope will help draw attention to this important and pressing issue,” added Quinn.
“We want to continue to highlight the unacceptable problem of institutionalized and systemic racism that everyone has to face. This sculpture now had to take place in public space: this is not a new topic, but it seems like there is a global turning point.”
“It was completely spontaneous”
In a press release published by Quinns Studio, Reid recalled an “overwhelming impulse” after which Protest that dragged an estimated 10,000 people to the streets of Bristol on June 7.
“When I stood on the base there and raised my arm in a Black Power salute, it was completely spontaneous, I didn’t even think about it,” she is quoted as saying. “It was like an electric charge was flowing through me.”
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Reid said that she had agreed to work with Quinn to “keep the path to racial justice and justice on the move.”
“This sculpture is about standing up for my mother, my daughter, and black people like me,” she continued. “It’s about black kids seeing it up there. It’s something to be proud of having a sense of belonging because we actually belong here and don’t go anywhere.”
The original bronze statue had been in downtown Bristol since 1895, but was increasingly controversial due to Colston’s role in the Atlantic slave trade. The sculpture faced petitions demanding its removal.
The statue pictured before it was lifted into place. Recognition: Marc Quinn Studio