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Tuesday, Dec 05, 2023

London has more statues of animals than it does of women and people of color, a new study says

London has more statues of animals than it does of women and people of color, a new study says

London has more public sculptures of animals than it does of women or people of color, a new study has revealed.
Across London, 8% of public sculptures depict animals, while only 4% depict women, according to the study from the British charity Art UK, which was published on Thursday.

People of color represent just 1% of the city's sculptures, with women of color accounting for 0.2%, it found.

The figures sit in stark contrast to that of statues and sculptures dedicated to men, which account for over 20% of the city's 1,500 monuments, and over 79% of all statues dedicated to "named people," the report said.

Royalty, military figures, politicians, writers, artists, designers and actors are among the most commonly depicted male subjects, Art UK said.

The group has been collecting data on London's sculptures since 2017 as part of a major research project, which is funded in part by City Hall.

Among the UK's largest cities, London has the highest percentage of sculptures dedicated to women.

Nationwide, Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1819 -- 1901, is the most represented woman.

Many of Britain's monuments have faced a reckoning since global protests against systemic racism and inequality last year.

In June 2020, Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol, UK, pulled down a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston and rolled it through the streets before dumping into the River Avon.

That same month, a local council in Dorset, southern England, announced it would remove a statue of Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell following police advice it was on a "target list for attack." Critics of Baden-Powell say he held homophobic and racist views.

With a colonial history spanning centuries -- and a mania for erecting statues in the 19th century -- Britain's towns and cities are dotted with monuments to figures like Colston and Baden-Powell.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced a commission in June 2020 to examine the future of landmarks around the UK capital, including murals, street art, street names and statues.

The Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm is aimed at improving "diversity across London's public realm, to ensure the capital's landmarks suitably reflect London's achievements and diversity."

This year, the Commission announced that it would be setting up a £1 million (approximately $1.4 million) fund to create new landmarks across London that "better reflect the capital's diversity and the achievements of all who have contributed to the success of the city."

Art UK's study is the first comprehensive audit of London's public monuments and will be used to inform the Commission's work.

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