Banksy has taken to Instagram to share a proposal for replacing the bronze statue of slave trader Edward Colston, which was pulled down and thrown in the harbour in Bristol June 7, during Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the city.
The street artist’s idea “caters for both those who miss the Colston statue and those who don’t,” he writes, referencing the controversy that’s arisen since the statue was toppled, with its defenders complaining that the act is an erasure of British history.
As a member of the Royal African Company, Colston transported around 80,000 Africans into slavery.
“We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protestors in the act of pulling him down,” Banksy suggests. “Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated.”
Banksy has also shared a sketch of what the new statue (or collection of statues) might look like.
Alternatively, the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, has suggested that the statue is likely to end up in a museum when it’s retrieved from the harbour, saying: “What's happened to this statue is part of this city's history and it's part of that statue's story.”
In the wake of the statue being pulled down, Rees also said: “I can't pretend, as the son of a Jamaican migrant myself, that the presence of that statue to a slave trader in the middle of the city was anything other than a personal affront to me and people like me.”
Elsewhere, memes about the toppling of the statue have provided some much-needed comic relief at a time when there’s very little to laugh about. Another statue, of the slave trader Robert Milligan, was removed from London’s West India Quay June 9, as shared in a post by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
UPDATE: The statue of slave trader Robert Milligan has now been removed from West India Quay.
June 6, Banksy also shared a new anti-racism artwork via Instagram, paying tribute to George Floyd and other victims of racism and police brutality, while showing solidarity with the worldwide protests that have taken place in the wake of Floyd’s murder.