Why are Statues set in place forever when buildings are not?


Apart from a very small number of examples such as the Presidents in Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, most statues are constructed by an artist and then installed in a particular location which logically makes them relatively easy to be removed and even replaced with a different statue. In most cases although there is a significant cost to making the statues and the plinth on which many of them are set out on, there is absolutely no reason why they cannot be removed and either placed elsewhere or destroyed and in some cases the material that they are made from can even be recycled. What seems very strange to me is how many settings will allow the buildings around the location to be knocked down and new buildings built with huge budgets compared to what would ever be needed for many statues and yet as we now know regarding the Edward Colston statue in Bristol and the Cecil Rhodes statue in Cambridge that despite many calls for certain statues to be removed and in the case of statues such as Mary Seacole and Alan Turing for new statues to be formed, the process seems to be much more complicated and long winded than a piece of art should be. Because I was born in Crosby I am very familiar with and enjoy the visits to the beach close to Crosby that has 100 statues on the sand. Equally I know people who are opposed to the idea but it has certainly increased the number of visitors who want to visit the Anthony Gormley setting. However in the case of his statues they could easily be removed once people stop visiting the beach to see them. What I found strange in the last few days was how some people were very angry at an attack on a statue that clearly was opposed by many people in the location but which had remained in place even after many calls for it to be removed. Indeed one of the images above was an attempt to demonstrate the lives that Colston had destroyed in a temporary statue approach carried out a few years ago. Clearly some statues may need to remain forever but surely we need a much more fluid approach to such things and if there is a strong argument for removing or moving statues and potentially replacing them with a more appropriate image for our current timescale, this should not be a problem. In the case of Cambridge, clearly the loss of the Cecil Rhodes statue may reduce the funding for the University and it may upset people like Mary Beard and Chris Patten, two people I often agree with. However given his history in the light of our current understanding of how he achieved so much at the expense of other nations it seems as though now is the moment for Mary and Chris along with their other colleagues to agree to remove Rhodes. Perhaps we could instead focus on which new images would be used to replace him. At the same time we could be focusing on which spaces could be used to allow new statues and new Artwork to be displayed that would help to present our nation with new types of celebration of people who have improved our society, often at great cost to them. One of my friends called Lisa Rodrigues was part of the team who helped to sort out the Mary Seacole statue so she is clearly someone who could assist our communities to consider how best to look forward.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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