Statues – guardians of civic pride and retail,
And dressed in the city’s stones to match –
Though bronze is rather dark for showing detail –
A bright day is essential, and a good eye to catch.
Otherwise, they’re lumps of grey we walk by ev’ry day,
Dispatches from the past that we’ve forgotten –
Best they stay anonymous, it’s far more fun that way,
Than a boring Lord of Borough-on-the-Rotten.
Never read the base in any case, that’s all the past,
Let’s privately recast them as we like –
Look into each graven face and let our fancies race,
With this one Lady Shazza, and that one Pikey Mike.
I’ve never been one for remembering the worthies in lumps of dark, dull bronze whose features are more often lost in the overcast light. The ancient world painted their statues, and indeed painted their churches, but we’re far too puriotan for that these days. But if we are to have them, let’s make them allegorical (and not necessarily female)…
Although having said that, there are two adjacent works at Hyde Park Corner which undermine my argument – one being Francis Wood’s Machine Gun Corps depiction of the Biblical David (despite the wielders of machine guns in the trenches being the very epitome of Goliath), appearing irrelevant and cliched when overshadowed by Charles Jagger & Lionel Pearson’s very literal Royal Artillery Monument (although in my defence, all of the supporting figures are suitably anonymous, including my favourite the Angel of Death).