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History never seems to be far from the headlines these days, whether it's 'in the making' with the unfolding Covid Crisis or 'in the re-making' as in the debates over whether all honorary statues should still be for public exhibition. I'm in the camp that recognises this as a serious and important issue, fully supportive of the Black Live Matter campaign, particularly in the horrifying conditions black Americans have endured and in many places still endure. However, I think that we have to be very careful about taking away statues other than those of the most egregious 'bad' figures. I think we should recognise that most leaders and many other famous figures were flawed, but still highly important and noteworthy, often beneficial on balance. It is much better to add statues and generally add to the historical record rather than to subtract from it. I will provide a few Welsh examples now. Sir Thomas Picton, Governor of Trinidad - especially noted for cruelty, including torture. Take his statue/monument out of Carmarthen and Cardiff. The Pennants of Penrhyn Castle - do exactly what they've done there, create exhibitions about the family's major connection with the Jamaican slave trade and the reasons why there was a very long strike of slate workers. Add a statue or two of the wonderful singer Paul Robeson, who sang for Welsh miners in the years 1929-39, inspiring them through the dark years of the Depression. Of course, the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Viking & many other cultures/'civilizations' were all based on slavery and it continued in several European states right up to the late nineteenth century - including, some would say, in Ireland. As for taking down Oliver Cromwell, what about Charles I, who started two civil wars? Don't get me started on him! Just where do you draw the line? Your thoughts please.
The statues in many towns are a good example of the perception of wealth and success at that time.They were fashionable in the 19th and early 20th century, even if they were depicting figures from a previous era . Many would have been erected by a generation that still had a huge class divide, massive wealth inequality, not to mention a totally different set of morals compared to our modern society. As such I don't think they do have a place on our streets. They should be preserved, as they are justifiably works of art; they should be rehoused in museums where sufficient opportunity would exist to explain their history and context. Public art is still a contentious issue today, so more statues rather than less is always going to prove difficult.