Recontextualised Memorials

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Recontextualised memorials / Recontextualised Edward Colston statue 
Object date 8.6.2020
Place of Origin Bristol, England
Designer Asha Gwatkin
Materials Cardboard, tape, recontextualised statue (13.11.1895, Bristol, England, John Cassidy, Bronze)

by student Savannah Vize

Following years of inaction by Bristol City Council to remove Edward Colston’s statue, the Black Lives Matter movement fuelled a surge of local activism to recontextualise and eventually topple the monument.

Asha Gwatkin taped the handmade replacement plaque to illuminate the local slave trader’s racist and supremacist history, commenting:

“We wanted to change the narrative to a positive one, not a negative one, and that’s what we’ve felt we’ve done by changing what this statue was” (Press Association, 2020)

The recontextualised statue demonstrates global flows of activist movements, through powerful images designed by society (Bello, 2008). Though BLM was formed in the US and was reignited by the racist killing of American George Floyd, it is felt globally and catalysed discussion, action and reflection across the world. The recontextualisation of the Robert E Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia, USA, or King Leopold statues in Belgium, show how these global flows have created diasporic solidarities in how BLM visual statements are being made.

BBC News. (2020, June 10). George Floyd protests: The statues being defaced

Bello, P. (2008). Goodscapes. Amsterdam University Press, p.33

Press Association 2020. (2020, June 8). Sign taped over plaque that describes slave trader as ‘virtuous and wise.’ Glasgow Times.


Wigglesworth, Kirsty (2020). Asha Gwatkin [photograph]. Published by VOA News & By Associated Press. (2020, June 10). Toppled Statue to Be Displayed in Museum Next to BLM Protest Signs. Voice of America.


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