Ideas

‘The Future will be Grateful for thy Universal Goodness’: Some talking points about public statuary now

Stocker 3. Africa Awakening
Mark Stocker
Written by Mark Stocker

This chapter suggests that scholars and the wider public should be more mindful of the context in which statuary was erected and aware of historical facts about figures or events before rushing into opinions.

Historians themselves cannot determine Edward Colston’s financial benefits from slave trading and his documented philanthropy needs consideration alongside this. Advocates of statue removal are often ignorant of, or hostile to, Victorian art, a point frequently overlooked in the current debate. Furthermore, their historical presentism bodes badly for any proposed Empire museum. For several reasons museums of any kind may be inappropriate recipients of public statuary. The imposition of American or British experiences and values on other cultures and societies is open to criticism, and two New Zealand statues are briefly examined in their historical contexts, emphasising personal and local conditions. Victorian public monuments are significant both as historical documents and as art, and wherever possible should be retained and explained.

Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the British Labour Party, used characteristically measured language when asked on an LBC radio phone-in for his response to the Black Lives Matter protesters, after they had toppled the statue of Edward Colston (1636–1721) in Bristol in June 2020. (Fig. 1) Although Starmer deplored Colston’s activities in the slave trade, he believed that the protestors were ‘completely wrong’ to have pulled ‘the statue down like that’, without recourse to due legal process.[1] Such a response was unsurprising from the former Director of Public Prosecutions and a political leader who differentiated markedly from his predecessor. Having seen footage of the protestors toppling Colston and then hurling him into the waters of the nearby Bristol Docks, this author was forcibly reminded of William Butler Yeats’s famous quotation: ‘Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold… The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity’.[2] These were the poignant parting words quoted by Kenneth Clark in Civilisation (1970), reflecting on its fragility. The episode also brought to mind the precepts of Colston’s contemporary, John Locke (1632–1704) commonly known as the ‘Father of Liberalism’. Like so many wealthy Englishmen of his time, Locke invested in the slave trade, specifically the Royal African Company (1672–75). However, he later modified his views on slavery and firmly opposed its operation on a hereditary basis. ‘Wherever law ends, tyranny begins’, he declared.[3] Another Lockean adage, ‘The law of nature… hath obliged all human beings not to harm the life, liberty, health, limb or goods of another’,[4] could be appositely applied to Colston (the ‘goods’) and ‘another’, the people of and visitors to Bristol and their statue.

Stocker Fig. 1 Edward Colston

Fig. 1

Edward Colston in history

Even Colston himself is eminently capable of being historically misinterpreted, all the more so in today’s politically fraught environment. His current shorthand identification as a ‘slave trader’ – which has been added to his description as a ‘merchant and philanthropist’ in his recently revised Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry[5] is based on information that surfaced in the 1990s and therefore irrelevant when his statue was erected in 1895. The website of Bristol’s biggest concern hall, Colston Hall (hurriedly renamed Bristol Beacon in September 2020), is not untypical in his current denigration: ‘…Colston was not a benefactor to the Hall and there is no material connection with the man or his wealth, which was in large part derived from the profits of trading in enslaved people’.[6] This is assertion, not proven fact, as there is simply no documentation of his wealth as deriving from such profits. Colston was a member of the Royal African Company (1680–92), in which Locke several years earlier had also been involved, and served as its deputy governor (1689–90). However, according to the historian Kenneth Morgan, ‘To what extent Colston received money from the sale of slaves is unknown’. He was undoubtedly remunerated for his work on the Company’s committees but Morgan warns that it remains ‘conjectural’ whether this was a major source of his fortune. More likely this came from trading in textiles, fish and alcohol, and without doubt much of it derived from Colston’s documented moneylending, as well as ‘shrewd investments to augment his capital’.[7]

 

While Colston was (briefly) the Royal African Company’s deputy governor, significantly he was never its governor and majority shareholder, who was the incumbent monarch – Charles II, James II and William III during the relevant period. For whatever reason, Colston gave up his involvement with the Company in his mid-fifties, and in the remaining thirty years of his life became far more involved in philanthropy on behalf of his native city. Indeed, his claim as the greatest philanthropist in Bristol’s history is indisputable, albeit recently eclipsed by Colston the slave trader. In particular, he ploughed back his huge fortune into three enterprises. One was a school where poor children could receive a free education good enough to enable them to rise in society. Another was Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, where those who could not afford medical fees were treated for no payment. The third was a set of almshouses, where elderly poor people were given comfortable retirement homes, each with their own flat. All three survive to the present day. Colston Boys’ School (now Colston’s School), founded in 1710, has long taken girls as well, and all three institutions have in recent generations brought benefit to Bristolians of all ethnicities. The late Victorians – themselves much concerned with finding ways of attaining better social justice – gave Colston a statue in gratitude for his philanthropy and loyalty to Bristol. In any historical value judgements, Colston’s contribution to human misery in the form of the slave trade should be balanced by his efforts to relieve it in other ways. This author would further argue that people’s opinions on historic injustices should not gallop ahead of their knowledge: curious and respectful ‘pastism’, with an awareness that that was then and this is now, is invariably preferable to a judgemental and politically correct ‘presentism’.

Badmouthing the Victorians

In the current environment, where the historical credentials of honoured individuals and events are being scrutinised, their potential vulnerability is regrettably exacerbated by a widespread ignorance of, and prejudice against, Victorian art. This point appears to be rarely if ever made in the debate. It was the misfortune of ‘Statuemania’ to have coincided with the Victorian and Edwardian periods which are still considerably underrated, even bad-mouthed, by art historians who should know better. While some commentators such as Madge Dresser are sensitive towards the qualities of Victorian art – she writes of Colston’s ‘elegant statue’ by John Cassidy (1860–1939) and its ‘art nouveau plaques’ – more often than not there is a philistine disregard of it.[8] This mindset is epitomised in the Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones’s belief that the Colston statue ‘typifies the artistically unimaginative genre of statuary favoured in Britain in the age of empire… it’s absurd to pretend Colston or Rhodes are much-loved heritage heroes or that their statues are major works of art’.[9] While not necessarily the greatest exemplars, both statues constitute part of a wider fabric of artistic heritage: disrespect one or two of them and many more are potentially threatened. Furthermore, before the modernism beloved by Jones did so much to de-skill art, if a sculptor enjoyed the standard training via a senior practitioner’s studio, art school or a large firm like Farmer & Brindley or Harry Hems, their work attained a remarkably proficient technical level, largely overlooked today. Any commitment – or hostility – to imperialism on their part was immaterial: they were sculptors, not political commentators. Interestingly, the politics of Hamo Thornycroft (1850–1925), sculptor of monuments to the imperial icon General Charles George Gordon in London and Melbourne – and later of the vast memorial to Lord Curzon in Calcutta – were left-liberal and highly sympathetic to trades unions. Furthermore, his contemporary, Harry Bates (1850–1899), a working class, arts and crafts-trained sculptor, could make a number of rather fine comparably ‘imperialist’ memorials, such as the equestrian statues of Lord Roberts in London, Glasgow and Calcutta, and Queen Victoria in Dundee. What mattered was, literally, whether you could hack it, and remarkably few of the myriad Victorian and Edwardian public monuments could be described as technically inept. This observation is highly relevant given the aforementioned hostility to the art of this period which is frequently and unthinkingly embraced by the ‘topplers’ in the current debate. Their ignorance often contrasts with their wider historical knowledge and still more their command of post-colonial theory. They need to be reminded that what they are addressing is not some kind of disembodied political text, but finely crafted marble and bronze.

Precisely this point arose when in June 2020 this author pointedly refused to sign an open letter, organised by Australian academics, curators and cultural commentators, which demanded the relocation of Captain James Cook’s memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney, to an unspecified museum.[10] (Fig. 2) Perusing the signatories, almost without exception, they were modernists or contemporary art specialists. The number of them who knew anything about Cook’s sculptor, Thomas Woolner (1825–1892) – whose political connections were overwhelmingly Liberal, and thus sceptical towards the Empire – not to mention Victorian statuary in general, was perhaps two or three and they probably cared even less.

Stocker Fig. 2 Cook

Fig. 2

Perils of Presentism

As stated earlier, historically topplers are profoundly presentist in their outlook. They are the heirs of the Whig theory of history, whose exponents – ironically at their apogee in the era of Statuemania – wrote history in a way that used the past to validate their own political beliefs. There is nonetheless a considerable intellectual gulf between the elegant and nuanced Whiggish histories of Lord Macaulay and Sir George Trevelyan, and the current unsubtle and uncritical adherence to present-day attitudes, with its wholesale interpretation of past events and villains like Colston recast in terms of today’s moral values and concepts. In reality, the past is a foreign country: good history – and indeed art history – should require the student to attempt to project themselves into the past and to ask how did historians and sculptors think then – for example in 1895, when the local Liberal publisher and Bristol history enthusiast, James Arrowsmith (1839–1913), largely funded the Colston statue project. We only need to travel back in our metaphorical Tardis just sixty years to appreciate the identical point applying to the sculptor Gilbert Ledward (1888–1960) and his immense Portland stone relief carving Africa Awakening, for the façade of the subsequently demolished headquarters of Barclay’s Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas), in Old Broad Street, London.[11] (fig. 3) Ledward’s sculpture represents the poignant last gasp of pre-modernist architectural beautification and the British Empire succumbing to the winds of change that saw it replaced by the Commonwealth. The relief is currently in storage and is seeking a permanent home. In pursuing this cause through the newly-founded Public Statues and Sculpture Association (PSSA), this author received an unhelpful reply from a respected South African art historian, who deemed the sculpture ‘patronising’. Ledward would not have been offended by such a response, so much as completely baffled and bewildered by it. The put-down tells us little or nothing about him and everything about present-day ‘presentism’, and also explains why the sculpture is suffering for its – and indeed Ledward’s – whiteness.

Stocker 3. Africa Awakening

Fig. 3

A suitable refuge for this and other relevant statuary, providing admirable ‘lessons of Empire’, might be a putative UK Empire Museum, a museum of imperialism if you will. Formerly there was one in Bristol, the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum (BECM), whose brief lifespan (2002–13) promised much, not least its acclaimed exhibition Breaking the Chains, which marked the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British Transatlantic Slave Trade. Tragically, the unauthorised sale of hundreds of items from the museum’s collection, which this author helped to expose, led to the BECM’s voluntary liquidation in 2013. While the care of its objects has passed to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, no new institution has since replaced it. The historian William Dalrymple is a prominent advocate of such a ‘museum of colonialism’ and the principle is an admirable one. The problem, however, is that by immediately adding that from it our children will be able to learn about ‘the really terrible things of the past’, Dalrymple’s zealous intentions raise fears of its domination by illiberal, decolonising politics, all the more so in the current febrile climate. The gospel of Edward Said, Homi Bhabha and in art history Jason Edwards would almost certainly prevail over the sceptical liberalism of Robert Irwin, Bernard Porter or Mark Stocker! By his very statement, ‘It is not a matter of being woke’, Dalrymple protests too loudly and unconvincingly.[12] Undoubtedly political sensitivity – and Britain’s dire economy – conspire to put such a prospective museum on hold but it should not fall off the radar. It could indeed serve as some kind of repository for victims of statue toppling or shifting, as Dalrymple helpfully proposes, but the devil lies in their interpretation to visitors. Hence it is somewhat simplistic of the historian David Olusoga to claim in this context that ‘a museum is where… we remember history properly’.[13]

Problems with museums

Should offending sculptures or monuments go to museums, as even moderates in the current debate have sometimes advocated? In contradiction to the point just made, the answer should mostly be no, and for several reasons. Firstly, the banal basics militate against it: museums worldwide are critically short of storage space, and offering them a statue, particularly a bulky equestrian one or a sculpture placed on a tall pedestal, would exasperate any reasonable collection manager. Secondly, aside from Colston (and even Colston himself before June 2020), Robert Musil’s famous dictum that there is ‘nothing in the world quite as invisible as a public monument’[14] held good and it is tempting to say that it should continue to do so. It is not as if a monument’s offensiveness will suddenly be dispelled by its more prominent location and visibility within a museum. The arguments against it will not miraculously cease – or still more miraculously, become more intelligent even if one lives in hope. Nor are all constituencies ever likely to be satisfied by a single interpretative label, especially when the statue carries political baggage. Thirdly, having a Victorian worthy or three in the atrium would almost certainly clash aesthetically with any desired installation of art after c. 1920 in such a space, which with the emphasis on modern and contemporary art has effectively become the norm. Fourthly, which explains why any proposed relocation of a statue of the magnitude of Sydney’s Cook to a museum is so inappropriate, the following rhetorical question applies: how can justice possibly be done to its modelling, the play of light on it, the viewing angles, the surrounding circulation space – in short just about every serious question applicable to the successful installation of a colossal four metre high structure on a seven metre columnar base? The figure would absurdly dwarf almost any prospective new setting, whereas the original location, carefully envisaged by Woolner and intended to be there for all time, is ironically too commandingly successful and dramatic to please its strident critics today. Cook thus pays the price in today’s fraught political climate.

Yet a museum might well provide a safe haven for a work like Francis Williamson’s (1833–1920) less artistically distinguished but profoundly interesting statue of Sir George Grey (1812–1898), who was described by his biographer Sir Keith Sinclair as ‘one of the most remarkable nineteenth century British colonial governors, and one of the most remarkable people who have lived in New Zealand’.[15] (fig. 4) His memorial stands, albeit precariously, in Albert Park, Auckland. Despite its te reo Māori pedestal inscription, a moving waiata (lament) composed by the Māori politican Timi Kara (Sir James Carroll), part of which translates as ‘The Future will be grateful for thy universal goodness’, it was not.[16] Grey was decapitated by radical Māori activists in 1987, while in recent months, in the wake of Colston, his replacement head, together with his fingers, have been vandalised and his body daubed with blood-red paint, in obviously crude copycat actions. Marble is particularly vulnerable, Grey with his fairly recent head still more so, and in the absence of alternative protective measures a museum could provide an appropriate refuge when, exposed to the elements and vandalism in Albert Park, his statue is clearly too much of a risk to society.

Stocker Fig. 4 Grey

Fig. 4

Copycat activism

This author takes a dim view of copycat attacks on statuary or indeed calls to defund the police, the latter recently decried by Barack Obama himself. Just as statuary needs to be appraised on a case-by-case basis, so do the historical records of respective nation states. New Zealand’s complex colonial past undoubtedly rendered deep injustices to Māori, but these should not be equated with the US’s brutal past. This author said as much in response to the New Zealand historian Professor Tony Ballantyne when he advocated removal to museums of figures ‘who propelled colonialism and whose values and actions are now fundamentally at odds with those of our contemporary communities’.[17] I demanded to know ‘which statues does he mean?’ and received no reply. The ‘great white Empress’, Queen Victoria, obviously upheld the Empire but she was not racist, and her carving at Ohinemutu, near Rotorua, was honoured and indeed appropriated by the loyalist Ngāti Whakaue sub-tribe, placed on a splendid post and sheltered by a canopy carved in the customary indigenous idiom by the celebrated Tene Waitere (1853–1931). In turn, with Canterbury province in the South Island, John Robert Godley (1814–1861) established a colony founded on Anglican ideals and, partly assisted by its very sparse population before 1850, he deliberately sought to avoid conflict with Māori. Godley died prematurely several years after his return to Britain, but his many admirers made sure that he was immortalised in another outstanding bronze statue by Woolner, the first significant non-Māori sculpture in New Zealand. Even Sir George Grey’s role is highly equivocal; he was reviled in his lifetime by some Māori, but eulogised by others, including his erstwhile foe in the New Zealand Wars, Rewi Maniapoto, who expressed the wish for Grey to be buried beside him. Working closely with his friend Te Rangikaheke, Grey recorded Māori legends, traditions and customs, doing much more in this respect than most academics today. The list of colonialist ‘propellers’ goes on and I accordingly warned: ‘we should think twice before we violate our legally protected heritage’.[18]

Where statues go unmolested

In his recent book Iconoclasm: Identity Politics and the Erasure of History (2020), art critic and cultural commentator Alexander Adams has noted the fortunate immunity from such activities in the European continent, where woke Anglophone zealousness is viewed with intelligent scepticism, and the perceived heritage value of historical monuments prevails over politics.[19] There are exceptions, of course, notably the statues of Leopold II in Antwerp and Ghent, both removed in 2020. The question of this ‘Belgian King Who Brutalized Congo’, as a New York Times headline characterised him,[20] lies outside the scope of this discussion, and even if he appears more convincingly odious than the other figures discussed here, the same issues of due legal process and heritage protection raised by Starmer would apply here too. President Emmanuel Macron has explicitly stated that France will not indulge in tearing-down operations, while Ian Morley explores the refreshingly different attitude in the Philippines, where colonialist era monuments are honoured and new historical ones commissioned. [21] Perhaps then, this is yet another unfortunate instance where the exceptionalist British world, as instanced in Brexit, sets itself apart and tears itself apart.

An irony of the peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in Wellington was the crowd gathering under the watchful eye of Thomas Brock’s statue of Richard Seddon, New Zealand premier from 1893 to 1906, which stands in the parliamentary grounds. (fig. 5) While his relations with Māori were benign, Seddon’s racism towards New Zealand Chinese today appears disgusting: he denied them state pensions, imposed stiff poll taxes on them and called them racial ‘pollutants’.[22] This author therefore asked a senior Chinese academic if she believed Seddon should go. She replied:

I’m probably more conservative than you on this issue. For me, we should leave the statues alone and they are only and can only be partial representations of history. Destroying statues doesn’t destroy historical injustice or biased historical narratives. Besides, historical fashions come and go. The Russians and the Chinese have destroyed enough statues but failed to rectify any historical wrongs. So, for me, debate historical figures and events as much as one likes but leave material historical remnants alone. I guess that also answers your question about Seddon. The statue can also enable a conversation about racism in NZ.[23]

Stocker Fig. 5 Seddon

Fig. 5

These views typify the moderation and indeed graciousness of New Zealand’s Chinese community, and were echoed in its response to Prime Minister Helen Clark’s belated apology for governments’ past discriminatory policies in 2002.

Conclusion

Statues and monuments are art, they are heritage and perhaps above all they are history: fascinating and insightful, sometimes highly charged historical documents. Olusoga has a point when he insists that ‘statues are not the mechanisms by which we understand history’,[24] but it is a truism to say that studying them aids that understanding. Even the latter point appears to be challenged by a fellow historian, Richard Evans, who caustically observed that ‘the last time I looked at one, the history books were not full of statues. Toppling monuments does not mean erasing history, as critics have claimed’.[25] Daphné Budasz goes further still in blithely asserting in a quotation worthy of ‘cancel culture’ that ‘statues are not history’;[26] perhaps to dogmatic modernists they are not art, either! Unless they are Gilbert & George, statues cannot answer back when intellectually abused by historians or physically abused by the crowd. What we should do about them has been addressed from a variety of perspectives both in the recent PSSA/ Burlington Magazine ‘Toppling Statues’ webinar and the accompanying book,[27] but as a parting thought, I advocate additional plaques fixed prominently to them without compromising aesthetics, which tell other sides of the story. The same thing can be done via QR codes and apps that spell out people’s perceptions today, technology which has the advantage of enabling such interpretations to be modified or augmented tomorrow. I want conciliation not confrontation, love not war, and emphatically echo the mission statement of the Church Monuments Society when it exhorts: ‘don’t expunge, but explain’.[28] Last but not least, we must heed the PSSA’s own website statement on the subject: ‘contested public sculpture should be retained and explained’.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Adams, Alexander. Iconoclasm: Identity Politics and the Erasure of History, Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2020.

 

Morgan, Kenneth. ‘Edward Colston and Bristol’, Bristol Branch of the Historical Association, 96, 1999.

 

Stocker, Mark. ‘“Te kai-hautu o te waka/ Director of the Canoe”: The Auckland Statue of Sir George Grey’, in Julie Codell (ed.), Transculturation in British Art, 1770–1930. Farnham: Ashgate, 2012, pp. 125–142.

 

ILLUSTRATIONS

 

  1. John Cassidy, Edward Colston, bronze, unveiled 1895. Formerly The Centre, Bristol. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

 

  1. Thomas Woolner, Captain James Cook, bronze, 1874–78. Hyde Park, Sydney. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

 

  1. Gilbert Ledward, Africa in Travail: Africa Awakening, bronze cast of model, 1959, 137.5 x 64 cm. Private Collection. (Photo: Sotheby’s/ Jeremy Warren)

 

  1. Francis Williamson, Sir George Grey, marble, unveiled 1904. Albert Park, Auckland. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

 

  1. Thomas Brock, Richard John Seddon, bronze, 1911–14. Parliamentary Grounds, Molesworth Street, Wellington. (Photo: Wellington City Council)

[1] Peter Walker, ‘Keir Starmer: pulling down Edward Colston statue was wrong’, The Guardian, 8 June 2020,

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/08/keir-starmer-edward-colston-bristol-statue-wrong (accessed 24 December 2020).

[2] William Butler Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43290/the-second-coming (accessed 24 December 2020).

[3] American History from Revolution to Reconstruction, ‘John Locke on Government: Chapter 18. Of Tyranny’, http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/documents/1651-1700/john-locke-essay-on-government/chapter-18-of-tyranny.php (accessed 24 December 2020).

[4] John Locke,  ‘Of the State of Nature’, The Second Treatise of Government, 1690, https://history.hanover.edu/courses/excerpts/163locke.html (accessed 24 December 2020).

[5] Kenneth Morgan, ‘Colston, Edward (1636–1721)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, version dated 9 July 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/5996 (accessed 24 December 2020).

[6] Bristol Beacon, ‘Drum roll, new name’, http://bristolbeacon.org/new-name/ (accessed 24 December 2020).

[7] Kenneth Morgan, ‘Edward Colston and Bristol’, Bristol Branch of the Historical Association, 96 (1999), pp. 3–4, http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/History/bristolrecordsociety/publications/bha096.pdf (accessed 24 December 2020).

[8] Madge Dresser, ‘Monumental folly – what Colston’s statue says about Victorian Bristol’, Apollo, 18 June 2020, https://www.apollo-magazine.com/colston-statue-victorian-bristol/ (accessed 24 December 2020).

[9] Jonathan Jones, ‘What Bristol should erect in place of the toppled Colston statue’, The Guardian, 8 June 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/jun/08/what-bristol-should-erect-in-place-of-toppled-colston-statue-black-lives-matter (accessed 24 December 2020).

[10] ‘Open letter: Relocate the Captain Cook Statue’, The Saturday Paper, 308 (4 July 2020), https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/topic/2020/07/04/relocate-the-captain-cook-statue/159378480010061#hrd (accessed 24 December 2020). See also Roger Franklin, ‘Too many Cooks boil the wroth’, Quadrant Online, 26 June 2020, https://quadrant.org.au/too-many-cooksboil-the-wroth/ (accessed 24 December 2020).

[11] Iain Black, ‘Africa awakening: Gilbert Ledward, Barclays Bank DCO and the end of empire’, Sculpture Journal (2007), 16, (1), pp. 34–46, https://doi.org/10.3828/sj.16.1.4 (accessed 24 December 2020).

[12] Alison Flood, ‘UK needs a museum of colonialism, says historian William Dalrymple’, The Guardian, 16 September 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/sep/16/uk-needs-a-museum-of-colonialism-says-historian-william-dalrymple (accessed 24 December 2020).

[13] Emma Grimshaw, ‘He was a slave trader and a murderer – David Olusoga speaks out after Colston statue toppled’, BristolLive, https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/he-slave-trader-murderer-david-4202819 (accessed 24 December 2020).

[14] Libquotes, https://libquotes.com/robert-musil/quote/lbx5g9l (accessed 24 December 2020).

[15] Keith Sinclair, ‘Grey, George’, Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1g21/grey-george (accessed 24 December 2020).

[16] See Mark Stocker, ‘“Te kai-hautu o te waka/ Director of the Canoe”: The Auckland Statue of Sir George Grey’, in Julie Codell (ed.), Transculturation in British Art, 1770–1930. Farnham: Ashgate, 2012, pp. 125–142.

[17] Tony Ballantyne, ‘Reactions to statues help reframe national history’, Otago Daily Times, 22 June 2020, https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/reactions-statues-help-reframe-national-history (accessed 24 December 2020).

[18] Mark Stocker, Letter to the editor, Otago Daily Times, 30 June 2020, p. 8.

[19] Alexander Adams, Iconoclasm: Identity Politics and the Erasure of History, Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2020.

[20] Monika Pronczuk and Mihir Zaveri, ‘Statue of Leopold II, Belgian King who Brutalized Congo, is Removed in Antwerp’, New York Times, 9 June 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/world/europe/king-leopold-statue-antwerp.html (accessed 24 December 2020).

[21] See Ian Morley, ‘Monuments for memory, monuments for identity: the historical and contemporary situation in the Philippines’, in Marjorie Trusted and Joanna Barnes (eds), Toppling Statues: Papers from the 2020 PSSA Webinar Co-hosted by the Burlington Magazine, Watford: PSSA Publishing, 2021, pp. 126–140.

[22] See especially Jeremy Martens, ‘Richard Seddon and Popular Opposition in New Zealand to the Introduction of Chinese Labour into the Transvaal, 1903–1904’, New Zealand Journal of History, 42, 2 (2008), pp. 176–195, http://www.nzjh.auckland.ac.nz/docs/2008/NZJH_42_2_04.pdf (accessed 24 December 2020).

[23] Yiyan Wang, e-mail to Mark Stocker, 24 June 2020.

[24] David Olusoga, quoted in Grimshaw, as note 13. My emphasis.

[25] Richard Evans, ‘The history wars’, New Statesman, 17 June 2020, https://www.newstatesman.com/international/2020/06/history-wars

[26] Daphné Budasz, ‘Colonial memory and the social role of history’, EUI Ideas, https://euideas.eui.eu/2020/07/06/colonial-memory-and-the-social-role-of-history/ (accessed 24 December 2020).

[27] See Trusted and Barnes, as note 21.

[28] Church Monuments Society, ‘Church Monuments Under Threat’, https://churchmonumentssociety.org

(accessed 24 December 2020).

About the author

Mark Stocker

Mark Stocker

Mark Stocker, FSA, is former Curator, Historical International Art, at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. He has taught at the universities of Canterbury and Otago. His publications include numerous contributions to The Burlington Magazine and When Britain Went Decimal: The Coinage of 1971 (2021).