A new Sky Arts documentary is set to dissect the “the role of statues in modern times”

Sky Arts is to release a feature-length documentary, Statues Redressed, which will see a group of inspiring artists reimagine a number of statues across the city of Liverpool. Artists taking part in the documentary include Larry Achiampong, Bob and Roberta Smith, and Harold Offeh, who were each tasked with creatively questioning “the role of statues in modern times as part of the ongoing debate around who and what should be immortalised as public monuments,” according to a statement by Sky Arts. Some statues reimagined are celebratory while “others will be confrontational,” explains Statues Redressed’s creators, “but as each one is gradually revealed to the public, we’ll all be prompted to look again, think again, and gauge how we feel about the statues that surround us.”

Achiampong, for example, will redress a giant bronze statue of William Gladstone from 1904 currently situated in St Johns Gardens. The artist’s reimagining of the piece sees the statue wrapped in a pan-African flag in “a response to the fact that William Gladstone’s family fortune came from plantations and slavery,” says Sky Arts. The subsequent piece is in turn “an attempt to open up conversations about the stories and voices that are omitted from history”. Elsewhere, Ghanian artist Harold Offeh creates a sound piece retelling the toppling of a statue of William Huskisson in 1982. Led by a group of activists offended by Huskisson’s support of slavery, Offeh’s reimagining takes the shape of a personal testimony from Stephen Nze, who was in Toxteth area of Liverpool on the night of the event.

Bob and Roberta Smith’s statue on the other hand takes the shape of a banner reading: “We will get through this with art.” Situated alongside Jacob Epstein’s Liverpool Resurgent sculpture created in 1956, this pairing of works aims to reinforce Epstein’s “original post-war message of hope and giving it new meaning during the pandemic”. Whereas milliner Stephen Jones OBE turns to the city’s famed Beatles statues created by Andy Edwards in 2015. Jones has created a bespoke series of hats inspired by songs by each band member, “Yellow Submarine for Ringo, Penny Lane for Paul, Help for John, and Here Comes the Sun for George.”

To see almost 50 statues reimagined and further creations by Taya Hughes, Daniel Lismore, Karen Arthur, Laurence Westgaph and Chila Kumari Singh Burman, tune into Sky Arts streaming service Now on 18 October.

As part of the wider conversation surrounding public art, London Southbank Centre curator Cedar Lewisohn recently penned a piece for It’s Nice That imagining the future of sculpture, which you can read here.

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