The statue titled “a surge of power (Jen Reid)” was erected before dawn on Wednesday without approval from Bristol city officials.

A sculpture of Black Lives Matter protester Jen Reid stands on the plinth previously occupied by the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, Britain, July 15, 2020.
A sculpture of Black Lives Matter protester Jen Reid stands on the plinth previously occupied by the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, Britain, July 15, 2020. (Reuters)

An artist has erected a statue of a Black Lives Matter protester atop the plinth in the English city of Bristol formerly occupied by a statue of a slave trader.

Marc Quinn created the life-size resin and steel likeness of Jen Reid, a protester photographed standing on the plinth after demonstrators pulled down the statue of Edward Colston and dumped it in Bristol’s harbour on June 7.

The statue, titled “a surge of power (Jen Reid)”, was erected before dawn on Wednesday without approval from city officials.

"It's something that fills me with pride," Reid, who came to inspect her likeness, said.

“I think it’s amazing," she said. "It looks like it belongs there. It looks like it’s been there forever."

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Who is Edward Colston?

Colston was a 17th-century trader who made a fortune transporting enslaved Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas on Bristol-based ships. His money funded schools and charities in Bristol, 195 kilometres southwest of London.

The toppling of his statue was part of a worldwide reckoning with racism and slavery sparked by the death of a Black American man, George Floyd, at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May.

Quinn, one of Britain’s best-known sculptors, said Reid had “created the sculpture when she stood on the plinth and raised her arm in the air. Now we’re crystallising it.”

City authorities fished the Colston statue out of the harbour and say it will be placed in a museum, along with placards from the Black Lives Matter demonstration.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees cast doubt on whether the new statue would be allowed to stay, noting that it “was the work and decision of a London-based artist.”

“The future of the plinth and what is installed on it must be decided by the people of Bristol,” he said in a statement.

“This will be critical to building a city that is home to those who are elated at the statue being pulled down, those who sympathise with its removal but are dismayed at how it happened and those who feel that in its removal, they’ve lost a piece of the Bristol they know, and therefore themselves.”

The council announced last month it will set up a commission to discover the "true history" of Bristol, one of the British cities most prominently involved with the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The impact of the march in Bristol has seen calls for other statues to be taken down, including that of colonialist Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University's Oriel College.

There have also been counter-demonstrations to protect some statues, including one of wartime leader Winston Churchill in London and the founder of the Scout movement, Robert Baden-Powell, in Poole on England's south coast.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies