Bristol council asks London artist to pay for removal of Black Lives Matter activist Jen Reid statue

The London-based artist who created the Black Lives Matter statue that was erected to replace that of Edward Colston will be billed for the cost of its removal, Bristol council has confirmed.

Marc Quinn created the life-size black resin and steel sculpture of activist Jen Reid after seeing a photo of her standing on the empty plinth following the toppling of the 18th Century slave trader.

Quinn’s sculpture, entitled A Surge of Power (Jen Reid), was installed shortly before 4.30am on Wednesday without the knowledge or consent of Bristol City Council.

A sign reading “Black Lives Still Matter” was placed at its base. But the statue was removed by the council on Thursday.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson told the Evening Standard the artist has been told he will be asked to “fund the recovery of the costs” it took to remove the statue.

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees on why the Black Lives Matter protester statue was removed

The spokesperson added that the council is still calculating the costs but according to a report by the Times the removal cost the local authority thousands.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees told BBC Radio 5 Live on Thursday that the council would “really welcome a contribution from the artist”.

He said: “The artist has obviously said that he wants to sell it and give the money to local charities.

“I will say too – and this is the point I’ve made and it’s not a flippant point – but actually we’re facing a major funding crisis through Covid at the moment as well.

The statue was removed from the plinth and loaded into a recycling and skip hire lorry on Thursday morning (PA)

“We’ve lost revenue and we’ve had increased costs. Local authorities all across the country are talking about the financial crisis.

“It cost us money to take this down. The money we spent taking the statue down actually comes from accounts that we spend on adult social care and children’s services.”

The Mayor explained the statue “had to come down” as permission was not given for it to be installed.

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

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.

The city council retrieved the Colston statue on June 11 and said it would be displayed in a museum with placards from the Black Lives Matter protest.

Mr Quinn’s previous works include self-portrait Self and a sculpture entitled Alison Lapper Pregnant, for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.

The artist, who had been following events following the death of George Floyd in the US, contacted Mrs Reid after a friend showed him a photograph on Instagram of her standing on the plinth.

“My first, instant thought was how incredible it would be to make a sculpture of her, in that instant,” he said.

“It is such a powerful image, of a moment I felt had to be materialised, forever. I contacted Jen via social media to discuss the idea of the sculpture and she told me she wanted to collaborate.”

He described the sculpture as “an embodiment and amplification” of Mrs Reid’s ideas and experiences.

Mr Quinn said if the statue is sold he hopes to donate the profits to two charities chosen by Mrs Reid – Cargo Classroom and the Black Curriculum.

Evening Standard – Bristol