Artist suggests we should bury statues such as Churchill so we 'look down upon them'

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Artist suggests we should bury statues such as Churchill so we 'look down upon them'

South African artist William Kentridge made the call for burial of statues of colonial figures, including Britain's wartime leader. He also discuss

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South African artist William Kentridge made the call for burial of statues of colonial figures, including Britain’s wartime leader. He also discussed the toppling of a statue in Bristol of slave trader Edward Colston and the protection of a statue of Mr Churchill outside the Palace of Westminster during Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

Mr Kentridge was speaking before a major retrospective of his work at the Royal Academy in London from September.

He said Britain needs to find imaginative solutions to its colonial era statues.

The artist said: “I think [the UK] could just take some of these monuments off their plinths and dig a hole in the ground, then bury them up to their waists.

“So you can see them, but you’re looking down on them.”

He told The Art Newspaper: “They put a wooden palisade around the Churchill statue in Parliament.

“That palisade was saying, for British people, Churchill is the greatest Britain who ever lived. But for millions of Indians who starved because all grain was taken for the British forces during the war, he’s not a hero.”

Mr Kentridge called on the UK to face up to its “blighted” past instead of defending it saying it was nothing but a “heroic history”.

He added that South Africa is ahead of the UK because it has a shameful past, but the country is not divided over it.

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Last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain should not rewrite the past or photoshop its cultural landscape by hauling down monuments to historical figures.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, commenting on the statue’s toppling, told the BBC: “I think that is utterly disgraceful.

“That speaks to the acts of public disorder that actually have become a distraction from the cause people are actually protesting about.

“It is a completely unacceptable act. Sheer vandalism and disorder are completely unacceptable.”

In April, a private school founded by Edward Colston in Bristol more than 300 years ago announced it was changing its name.

Colston’s School revealed plans to drop the slave trader’s name in December.

They announced the school would be called Collegiate from September in order to become more welcoming and inclusive.

City, University of London, renamed its business school after 18th century statistician, philosopher and Presbyterian minister Thomas Bayes.

The decision ended the business school’s association with Sir John Cass, who was a key figure in the development of the slave trade.

A foundation set up in Cass’s name was also officially relaunched as The Portal Trust.



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