Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Head of state

When it comes to damaging public sculpture in the name of religion, politics or plain bad temper, heads get a real beating. A stroll through any antiquities museum will reveal broken noses, scratched-out eyes and, when things get really out of hand, full decapitation.  We had one of our own beheaded in 1987 when a group called Upokokohua took off with Sir George Grey’s head which up to that time had been located on top of his statue in Auckland’s Albert Park. A new head was made by sculptor Roderick Burgess (he also did the controversial Sir Keith Park effort in London which briefly appeared on the Trafalgar Square Fourth plinth).

All this brings us to another re-headed political statue. This time it's one of Margaret Thatcher currently on offer to her hometown Grantham. When on display in London in 2002 Thatcher’s head was removed from her marble body by an outraged visitor using one of the protective metal stanchions for the job (another reason to back OTN’s campaign to remove protective barriers around sculptures). The repaired sculpture is now on offer to Grantham but there's not a lot of support for the idea with one councilor opining that it could be ‘asking for trouble’.  There are two other sculptures of the ex-Prime Minister on view, one in Westminster (standing) and the other in the United States (sitting).
Images: Top Baroness Thatcher before and after. Bottom same with Sir George Grey