South African artist William Kentridge has called for the burial of statues of colonial figures, including the British warlord. He also referred to 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 events in 2020.
Mr Kentridge was speaking at a major retrospective of his work at the Royal Academy in London from September.
He said Britain needed to find imaginative solutions to its colonial-era statues.
The artist said: “I think [the UK] could simply remove some of these monuments from their plinths and dig a hole in the ground, then bury them waist-deep.
“So you can see them, but you despise them.”
He told The Art Newspaper: “They put a wooden picket fence around the statue of Churchill in Parliament.
“That stockade said, to the British, Churchill is the greatest Britain that ever lived. But to the millions of Indians who starved to death because all the grain was taken for British forces during the war, he’s not a hero.”
Mr Kentridge called on the UK to face its ‘rusty’ past instead of defending it saying it was just a ‘heroic story’.
He added that South Africa is ahead of the UK because it has a shameful past, but the country is not divided on this.
Last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain should not rewrite the past or photograph its cultural landscape by tearing down monuments to historical figures.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, commenting on the toppling of the statue, told the BBC: “I think it’s absolutely shameful.
“It speaks to acts of public disorder that have actually become a distraction from the cause people are protesting against.
“This is a totally unacceptable act. Pure vandalism and disorder are totally 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 that 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 the 18th-century Presbyterian statistician, philosopher and minister Thomas Bayes.
This decision ended the trade school’s association with Sir John Cass, who was a key figure in the development of the slave trade.
A foundation created in Cass’s name has also been officially relaunched as The Portal Trust.
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