Churchill statue should be torn down says anti-slavery activist
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The statue which depicts Prospero and a part-naked Ariel from Shakespeare’s The Tempest was installed by artist, Eric Gill, on the front of the headquarters in 1933 shortly after the building opened. The statue sits above the entrance to the BBC on Regent Street.
On Wednesday, police were called to the scene at around 4.15pm and the man was brought down about four hours later.
A spokesperson for the Met Police said the man was brought down with the help of a fire crew.
He was checked by paramedics before being arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and taken into custody.
The BBC’s culture editor, Katie Razzall, said while one man had used a ladder to climb up the statue, another man stood nearby shouting “paedophile”.
She said: “With every loud smash, there’d be a moan or a shout of ‘stop’ from someone in the gathering crowd below.
“It felt brutal; an assault on beauty.
“Eric Gill was a monster, a depraved paedophile who abused his daughters and others.
“But as a sculptor, he made wondrous creations.
“At a time when statues across the country are being reassessed, there’ll be those who believe that if it’s legal to tear down a monument to a prominent slaver, as happened in Bristol, it is also time to do the same to an artwork by a man who committed horrific sexual crimes.
“If that’s the case though, where does it end?”
Over the years, groups have campaigned against the statue carved by Gill.
Gill was one of the most prominent early 20th-Century British artists and designers until his death in 1940.
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But his diaries, published many decades later, revealed he sexually abused his daughters and family dog.
The artwork by a known paedophile on the BBC headquarters became a regular focus of social media backlash.
Far-right activists such as Tommy Robinson regularly cited its presence while criticising the BBC.
The BBC faced calls from sexual abuse charities to remove the statue from its headquarters in 2013 but refused.
They cited Gill’s record as “one of the last century’s major British artists whose work has been widely displayed in leading UK museums and galleries.”.
According to the BBC, the statue faced backlash after it was installed in the 1930s.
At the time, there was public concern about “the size of the sprite’s genitalia”.
The corporation’s history of the artwork reads: “A question was tabled in the House of Commons, but the popular story, that Gill was ordered to modify the statue, is not substantiated.”
Following the Black Lives Matter movement last year, several statues across the UK have been vandalised or removed.
As a result, the Government pledged to pass new laws to protect existing statues in public spaces.
According to the Guardian, while other statues have been targeted for removal, the objection to Gill’s statue is to the artist rather than the person it depicts.
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