Art / Edward Colston

Artwork of the fall of Colston’s statue takes over Easton billboard

By lowie trevena, Thursday Jul 9, 2020

A huge artwork depicting the fall of Colston’s statue and the continuing fight for justice has been installed on a billboard in Easton.

RTiiiKA, a Bristol-based illustrator and co-founder of the Bristol Womxn Mural Collective, drew the piece on the day Colston’s statue was pulled down.

“This artwork captures this historic moment and continues the cry for anti-racism to be an active part of our lives,” says the artist.

Bristol Rising Tide, a direct action group, and RTiiiKA came together to reclaim the billboard space, which is usually dominated by corporate advertising.

“I’m hugely inspired by groups like AdBlock who are paving the way for Bristol to be ad-free,” says RTiiiKA. “It’s no surprise that these ginormous ad spaces have negative impacts on our mental health, the way we see (women’s) bodies, and the environment.

“When you put an artwork up in this space, it opens up the possibility to live a different reality – one where, instead of an advert selling you a mortgage looming overhead, you have an artwork that speaks to and celebrates the local community.”

RTiiiKA is inspired by AdBlock Bristol, who install artwork like this, a photo by Colin Moody in St Werburgh’s. Photo: Martin Booth

RTiiiKA is holding a socially distanced “exhibition” opening on Friday, July 10 at 6.30pm, to celebrate the artwork.

The artwork is not only political in its documentation of the statue’s fall and taking over advertising space, but it calls for continued anti-racist activism.

“The red rope has significance here,” says RTiiiKA. “I want it to clearly illustrate how the violent oppression and racism that Colston (and Bristol) profited from centuries ago, is still very much tangled to the present day racism that exists now.

“The rope that winds around the people in the crowd is also a call to myself, a white person, to recognise, and untangle and my own prejudices, privilege and position.”

Photo: Crowds gather around the Floating Harbour and stand on Pero's Bridge as the statue of Edward Colston, covered in graffiti and with a rope around its neck is lifted over a fence to be thrown in to the water below.

RTiiiKA’s piece calls on white people to continue to recognise their privilege. Photo: Colin Moody

The artist calls on white people to continue to fight against their biases and subconscious discrimination against black people, saying: “Ultimately, I want it to hit home that Colston may have fallen, but we still need to have a tight grip on the rope that pulled him down.”

Main photo: RTiiiKA

Read more: Photography exhibition documents the fall of Colston’s statue

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