On the 15th of July, 2020 artist Marc Quinn installed his artwork ‘Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020’ on the plinth in central Bristol where a statue of 17th Century slave trader Edward Colston had been toppled by Black Lives Matter protesters a month before.
Designed to be a temporary installation, the resin artwork featuring a likeness of protester Jen Reid was placed in position in a secretive dawn operation.
The artist consulted with Price & Myers partner, Tim Lucas, to ensure the statue was structurally sound and robust enough to resist the forces of nature and of human intervention.
To avoid having to drill into the existing plinth and ensure it wasn’t damaged, the artwork needed a sufficiently heavy base to secure its safety and the safety of anyone who might want to pull it down. Tim calculated that a base of 600kg, when combined with the heft of the statue, would be the appropriate weight.
Rubber padded footings added grip and further protected the plinth, and a 60mm steel tube and two 48mm steel tubes inside the statue’s ankles connected the artwork to the base. There is a precise point at which a statue will topple. That point is when the ‘overturning moment’ is greater than the ‘restoring moment’ – you have to get the balance right.
‘Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020’ made headlines all over the world, embodying moments of both overturning, and of restoration.