The life-size resin and steel likeness of Jen Reid, who was photographed on June 7 standing on the empty base after demonstrators pulled down the Colston statue and dumped it in Bristol’s harbor, went up before dawn Wednesday without approval from city officials.
“I think it’s amazing,” Reid said. “It looks like it belongs there. It looks like it’s been there forever.”
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, 120 miles southwest of London.
The toppling of Colston’s statue occurred during protests sparked by the death of George Floyd — but Bristol’s mayor suggested Wednesday that the new sculpture of Reid may not stay up for long.
“To this end, the future of the plinth and what is installed on it must be decided by the people of Bristol,” Marvin Rees said in a statement, adding that the decision will be “critical to building a city that is home to those who are elated at the statue being pulled down, those who sympathize 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 sculpture that has been installed today was the work and decision of a London based artist,” Rees said. “It was not requested and permission was not given for it to be installed.”
After the Colston statue was thrown in the harbor, city officials fished it out and said it would be placed in a museum, along with placards from the Black Lives Matter demonstration.
The new statue, meanwhile, is called “A Surge of Power (Jen Reid)”.
Marc Quinn, the artist behind it, said Reid had “created the sculpture when she stood on the plinth and raised her arm in the air.”
“Now we’re crystallizing it,” he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.