Unique art project sees leading artists take over Liverpool’s statues in Sky Arts documentary, Statues Redressed

Friday 16 July 2021

Sky Arts is following a group of artists including Bob and Roberta Smith, Chila Kumari Burman, Daniel Lismore, Taya Hughes and Stephen Jones as they take on Liverpool's statues including Liverpool Resurgent (aka Dickie Lewis), Kitty Wilkinson, Benjamin Disraeli, Christopher Columbus and The Beatles.

This summer, Sky Arts will follow a collection of inspiring artists in a unique project as they creatively reimagine some of Liverpool’s most iconic statues, giving them a whole new look by dressing them up or creating art around them.

The documentary special, Statues Redressed, coming to Sky Arts and streaming service NOW in October, will see the artists challenge and celebrate the role of these statues in modern times, as part of the ongoing debate around who and what should be immortalised as public monuments.

Chosen because of its rich history, Liverpool has the highest number of statues in the UK outside of London, including cultural icons like The Beatles through to sporting heroes, royalty, and monuments depicting people linked to slavery and Britain’s colonial past.

Some of the artists’ interventions range from the celebratory to the confrontational, and all will be thought-provoking. As each statue is gradually revealed to the public, spectators will be prompted to look again, think again, and question how we feel about the public art that surrounds us. The artists involved in the project include major artists and heavyweights in the public art scene, as well as rising stars, local artists and designers. The reimagined statues include:

  • Artist Bob and Roberta Smith has boldly placed a 'We will get through this with art' banner underneath Jacob Epstein's famous Liverpool Resurgent sculpture, reinforcing the statues original post war message of hope and giving it new meaning following the impact of the pandemic
  • Chila Kumari Burman has dressed two statues – the Liverpool businessmen, the Moores brothers, who used to be friends with her dad – and the ‘Saint of the Slums’ Kitty Wilkinson, who she’s chosen to celebrate as one would a Hindu goddess, for all that she did for the people of Liverpool.
  • Designer Daniel Lismore gives the statue of Victorian statesman Benjamin Disraeli a whole new look with a Pride themed Empress of India dress. The redressing is a commentary on Disraeli’s reputation as a flamboyant dresser and a dandy who wrote love letters to men, and on the fact that Victorian anti-homosexuality laws were imposed by Britain across the Empire. In many ex-colonial countries today, those laws still apply.
  • Taya Hughes has dressed statues of Christopher Columbus, Captain Cook and Henry The Navigator in elaborate Elizabethan-style ruffs made from fabrics associated with indigenous populations in Africa, New Zealand and Australia as a commentary on these explorers, who claimed to ‘discover’ these parts of the world.
  • Designer Stephen Jones will soon be giving The Beatles statue outside the Museum of Liverpool a new look creating four spectacular hats, each inspired by a different Beatles song to celebrate the iconic band.

Bob & Roberta Smith, who has 'redressed' Epstein's 'Liverpool Resurgent' said: "I've always loved Epstein's work, and particularly this piece, which represents the city's revival after being so badly bombed in the Blitz. My banner for Statues Redressed will build on Epstein's message of renewal and positivity, and I hope will encourage everyone in Liverpool to feel good about the future, and to reconsider and celebrate this brilliant work of art.

“Public art - statues, monuments and sculptures - is complex and contested. What we're aiming to do with Statues Redressed in Liverpool is to create a new, engaging conversation about all this. Statues Redressed is in Liverpool, but the same questions apply to public art all over the UK.”

The project takes on many of the city's most iconic statues, from Peter Pan in Sefton Park (George Frampton, 1928) to the imposing Queen Victoria memorial in Derby Square (CJ Allen, 1906). Full details of all 'redressings' can be found at: www.statuesredressed.com

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, Councillor Harry Doyle, said: “Liverpool is a city renowned for pushing cultural boundaries and for using art and creativity as a way to engage and tackle challenging topics. As the global conversation about the role and future of statues and monuments gets more intense, the chance to work with Sky Arts on this unique project feels like perfect timing and the right thing for us to do as a city.

“Although the artists will only create temporary makeovers to some of our most recognisable statues, we hope that it will kickstart a conversation with residents and visitors alike about the original works, what they mean to society today and the nuance and complexity when history and art come together in this way.”

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, said: “Statues have often been a source of discussion and controversy and we all know how live and urgent the questions are around what statues are for, who or what they should represent and who deserves to be memorialised. This collaboration between Sky Arts, Liverpool Council and a cohort of brilliant artists will tackle some of those questions head, on in an entertaining and thoughtful way, with a healthy dose of wit and humour threaded throughout. We’re looking forward to seeing the results and engaging the people of Liverpool in the conversation.

Statues Redressed will air on Sky Arts, Freeview Channel 11, and streaming service NOW this October.

For further information please contact:

Hannah.Harris-Turner@premiercomms.com | Calum.McGarry@premiercomms.com

About Sky Arts

Sky Arts exists to bring more art to more people across the UK. In 2020, with the creative industries under serious threat, we threw open our doors to make the channel free for everyone to watch. We’ve redoubled our mission to increase access to the arts and we’re committed to getting everyone involved as the industry recovers. The fact is, we need the arts now like never before, and Sky Arts brings them straight to your living room.

We have something for everyone, championing creative talent by showcasing the best in music, theatre, dance, literature, opera and visual art. From Glyndebourne to Grime and Cézanne to The Style Council, we’ve got your passions covered. Millions of viewers tune in to hit returning series such as Portrait Artist of the Year, Urban Myths and British cultural institution The South Bank Show, but our acclaimed new programmes might take you anywhere from Pinter’s house with Danny Dyer to a Scottish road trip with Samuel Johnson.

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do. Sky Arts is the headline sponsor of National Theatre Live in the UK and we work with cultural partners across the country including the English National Opera, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate, Creative Industries Federation and Coventry City of Culture to name but a few.

You can watch Sky Arts for free on Freeview channel 11 and Freesat channel 147. If you’ve got Sky or a Now TV entertainment pass, you can also watch over 2,000 hours of shows exclusively on demand.

We’re passionate about supporting the next generation of artists, so we’re working with five leading Sky Arts Ambassadors - Booker Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo, dance artist Akram Khan, conductor Charles Hazlewood, Theatre Royal Stratford East Artistic Director Nadia Fall, and sculptor Anish Kapoor – to run bursary schemes for new and emerging talent.

About Northern Town

Northern Town is an independent production company specialising in factual TV including arts, music and history. Recent programmes include ‘Marina Abramovic Takes Over TV’ for Sky Arts’, ‘Get Creative Masterclasses’ and ‘Craftivism’ for the BBC.

About Culture Liverpool

Culture Liverpool is Liverpool City Council's department which funds, programmes, produces and delivers culture and events in Liverpool. It aims to create a dynamic programme that reflects the character and creativity of the city, placing citizens at its heart and inspiring all who participate and spectate. For more information visit www.cultureliverpool.co.uk

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