The statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College in Oxford should be rotated to face the Wall of Shame, sculptor Antony Gormley has proposed.
Gormley’s suggestion, made in an interview with the Financial Times, would be an innovative solution to a multi-year battle over whether the 19th-century colonialist and white supremacist should remain in the spotlight at college.
It comes after Oriel decided to keep the statue, despite the findings of an independent commission that supported its removal.
Gormley said the statue should remain, the FT reported. But he added: “If we have to re-examine our relationship with him, I would just turn him to face the wall rather than the outside. “
Turning Rhodes to face the wall would be “a recognition of collective shame” which “would also reaffirm the fact that Oriel College and many institutions have assets derived from the riches of Rhodes,” said the FT quoting Gormley.
Rhodes was instrumental in establishing the British colony of Rhodesia, spanning what is now Zambia and Zimbabwe, and established the De Beers Diamond Company. His last will endowed the University of Oxford with the creation of the Rhodes Scholarship, the oldest graduate scholarship in the world, initially reserved for men from the territories of the British Empire, Germany and the United States. United.
Critics say Rhodes’ racism and his role in British imperial expansion and the establishment of apartheid in Africa means he should be condemned. A campaign to remove statues from Rhodes began in Africa in 2015 and quickly led to the removal of a statue from the University of Cape Town. The Oxford students started their campaign around the same time.
Oriel had previously warned of the possibility of losing around £ 100million in gifts if the statue is destroyed, but insisted financial concerns were not the reason for its retention. Last month, following the recommendation to remove Rhodes, the college said it would not “begin the legal process” of moving the statue at this point due to the “regulatory and financial challenges” posed by its removal. .
Nearly 70 tributes to slave traders, colonialists and racists across the UK have been removed since the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, according to a Guardian analysis. The number includes around 39 names – including streets, buildings and schools – and 30 statues, plaques and other memorials that have been or are in the process of being changed or removed.