In the early hours of the morning on 15th July 2020, Marc Quinn revealed his newest masterpiece, a statue of Jen Reid, an influential figure in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The statue has replaced another statue of the old 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston, which was toppled into Bristol Harbour during a BLM protest on June 7th. Reid told The Guardian “Being up there, with my fist raised – it was an amazing moment, and this captures it. It gives me goose pimples”.
Quinn is a British contemporary visual artist whose work includes sculptures, installations and paintings. Quinn uses human anatomy, genetics and the environment to explore “what it is to be human in the world today”. This statue titled A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) does just that by using art to signify the cultural importance of the Black Lives Matter movement. Having a young black woman stand with her fist held high to the sky in honour of the movement is a powerful image that will surely be captured in the history books in the future. Quinn further proves the power of art and its ability to unite and give drive to a movement.
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Today, Bristol resident Jen Reid and I have unveiled a new temporary, public installation, ‘A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020’, on top of Edward Colston’s empty plinth in Bristol, England. This life-sized sculpture is based on an image I saw on Instagram of local resident Jen Reid standing on the vacant plinth with her fist raised in a Black Power salute, a spontaneous moment following a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020. During the protest, a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled from this spot. Cast in black resin, this new sculpture ‘A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020’ takes its place – no formal consent has been sought for the installation. Read the full statement – link in bio. #blacklivesmatter #marcquinnart #5thplinth
Update after Publication (16/07/20):
Sadly, the statue that was unveiled as a move of solidarity to the BLM movement has been taken down at the request of Bristol mayor Marvin Rees. Stating that the replacement statue for Colston’s spot “must be decided by the people of Bristol”, he cites the installation of the new statue as the “decision of a London-based artist,” that “was not requested and permission was not given for it to be installed.” This news comes as the bitter disappointment to many communities already but Rees remains firm in his statement and went on to say that some individuals “feel that in [Colston’s] removal, they’ve lost a piece of the Bristol they know and therefore themselves”.
It is currently unclear whether Rees will push to have the statue of Jen Reid restored through the official channels at this point.