Demolish all the statues? Here’s what to do instead | Sculpture
Gary Younge argues that no statue should be erected because the perspectives of people’s achievements change over time, and therefore those celebrated in one era may be derided in another (Why should every statue fall? , June 1st). To me, this seems to be going too far.
It is highly unlikely, for example, that one day attitudes towards smallpox will change so drastically that a memorial to Edward Jenner will no longer be considered appropriate.
It is hardly conceivable that one day Stoke City supporters would be embarrassed by the statue of Stanley Matthews outside their stadium as they have come to regard him as a poor footballer.
And I suspect there will never be a campaign to demolish the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson memorial in my hometown of Wisbech. We could go on.
I agree that monuments primarily reflect the values ââof the culture for which they were built. However, I find it interesting that Gary Younge writes: âNo one seriously disputes the statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, because no one seriously disputes the notion of women’s suffrage.
In a time when democracy is being eroded by the far right, widespread misogyny and conspiracy theories, there are many who oppose the right to vote and would be happy to see its statue removed. As cultural mores change, shouldn’t we strive to publicly represent the paramount importance of democracy, equality and liberalism, which are so integral to the better future of our descendants? It may not be ancient history, but it can still be vital.
Gary Younge’s thoughtful and entertaining article on public statues had one small omission. Why not emulate the example of Glasgow, where the equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington outside the Modern Art Gallery has been barred with a traffic cone since the 1980s? Puts the worthy chappie into perspective, and the cone-related merchandise in the museum shop is a useful income generator as well.
Dr Ron Fraser
I disagree with Gary Younge on the fate of the statues of disreputable people. We need to remember our past, the good guys and the bad guys. For example, Edward Colston’s pedestal eulogy could have – as was once proposed – been replaced by a more precise and complete description, listing not only his fortune, but also the number of slaves who died in his service. The same could be done for most statues.
Gary Younge mentions the argument that âto change something about a statue is to change history. This is such blatant nonsenseâ¦ The statuesâ¦ are not in themselves history. But he later wrote: âStatues always tell us more about the values ââof the time when they were posed than about the history of the person represented. Precisely. This in itself is a useful source of history.
The sculptural head of Pilar Quinteros Janus Fortress: Folkestone, facing both Europe and the UK, is made of chalk and plaster and is destined to gradually erode and disintegrate. It is a perfect model for the construction of statues, inevitably of their time and place, thus avoiding possible future cultural wars.
Dr Anthony Isaacs
I had a fantasy that a place somewhere in England would have a statue in every corner of me, Father Alec Mitchell, Ian Grieve and Keith Flett, to mark the letter writing contribution we have made to national life. However, Gary Younge’s brilliant article convinced me that this is not appropriate and that we will have to settle for the occasional acknowledgment emails from friends reading them.
Rather than tearing down statues, perhaps it would be to save our disdain for the ugly principles they represent by covering them with filth. And as for these higher personages, we have pigeons in abundance.