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Banksy Colston Four souvenir shirt
Via Instagram/@banksy

Banksy releases ‘souvenir shirts’ to raise funds for the Colston Four

The artist’s t-shirt drop will benefit protesters charged with toppling Bristol’s statue of slave trader Edward Colston during last year’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations

Hundreds of Banksy fans have flocked to shops around Bristol, after the street artist announced a surprise collection of t-shirts to raise funds for the four defendants in the Colston statue trial. 

Going on sale December 11, the “souvenir shirts” commemorated the toppling of the slave trader statue on June 7, 2020, amid Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the city (revisit the moment it was rolled into Bristol Harbour here).

As showcased in an Instagram post from the anonymous artist, the shirt features an image of the empty plinth with a rope, and a discarded placard off to the side. Stencilled over the image is the name of the city: “Bristol.”

The t-shirts cost £25 each, and were limited to one per person. The locations where they went on sale — including the stores That Thing, Friendly Records, and Rough Trade — were announced by local radio station Ujima, and were quickly swarmed by eager buyers.

All proceeds from the drop will go to the defendants, Banksy explains, “so they can go for a pint”.

The so-called “Colston Four”, whose ages range from 21 to 36, are charged with criminal damage for removing the controversial statue of Edward Colston. They have all pleaded not guilty to the charges, and face a trial at Bristol crown court later this month.

Shortly after the statue was originally pulled down last year, Banksy shared an idea for its replacement that “caters for both those who miss the Colston statue and those who don’t”.

“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,” he suggested at the time, sharing a sketch of what the new memorial could look like. “Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated.”

Another artist, Marc Quinn, went even further in July 2020, covertly installing his own statue of BLM protester Jen Reid (through the statue was subsequently removed by Bristol City Council).

Take a closer look at Banksy’s Colston Four “souvenir shirts” below.