Edward Colston Statue Replaced By Sculpture Of Black Lives Matter Protester Jen Reid

Jasmin Gray
·3-min read

A sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protester has been erected in Bristol on the plinth where a statue of slave trader Edward Colston once stood.

Artist Marc Quinn created the black and resin steel piece of protester Jen Reid, who was photographed standing on the empty plinth after the Colston statue was toppled during a march in June.

The sculpture, entitled A Surge of Power (Jen Reid), was erected shortly before 5am on Wednesday by Quinn’s team without the prior knowledge of Bristol City Council.

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

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

After the sculpture was installed, Reid stood in front of it with her fist in the air.

She recalled climbing onto it 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.

“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.”

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. (Photo: 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. (Photo: PA)

She added: “Creating this sculpture is so important as it helps keep the journey towards racial justice and equity moving, because Black lives matter every day.

“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.”

On June 7, protesters used ropes to pull the Colston statue, which was erected in 1895, from its plinth in Bristol city centre.

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

Bristol City Council retrieved the statue, which will be displayed in a museum along with placards from the Black Lives Matter protest, from the water on June 11.

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, contacted Reid after a friend showed him a photograph on Instagram of her stood 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 added: “The plinth of Edward Colston in Bristol seems the right place to share this sculpture about the fight against racism, which is undoubtedly the other virus facing society today.”

Quinn said the sculpture was not being put on the plinth as a “permanent solution”.

“We want to keep highlighting the unacceptable problem of institutionalised and systemic racism that everyone has a duty to face up to,” he said.

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

Related...

Black Lives Matter Protesters Tear Down Slave Trader Statue In Bristol And Dump In Harbour

Removing Statues Doesn't Erase History – It Makes It

Removing Statues Is The Easy Part. Confronting Britain's Racist Legacy Will Be Harder

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.