Unique City Council Project Scoops National Broadcast Award

A Liverpool City Council cultural project has scooped a sought-after national broadcast accolade.

Statues Redressed took gold in last night’s Broadcast Digital Awards in the Best Content Partnership or AFP category, pipping the likes of ITV’s Cooking With The Stars, Channel 4’s Cook Clever Waste Less and BT’s FA Disability Cup coverage to the title.

The Liverpool project saw Culture Liverpool join forces with Sky Arts and production company Northern Town in a campaign which brought together 20 artists to challenge and celebrate the role of the city’s statues in modern times. This formed part of the ongoing debate around who and what should be immortalised as public monuments.

Some of the artists’ interventions ranged from the celebratory to the confrontational, with the statues gradually revealed to the public throughout the summer of 2021. Those artists involved included heavyweights in the public art scene, as well as rising stars, local artists and designers.

The reimagined statues included:

  • Artist Bob and Roberta Smith boldly placed a ‘We will get through this with art’ banner underneath Jacob Epstein’s famous Liverpool Resurgent sculpture, reinforcing the statue’s original post-war message of hope and giving it new meaning following the impact of the pandemic
  • Designer Daniel Lismore gave the statue of Victorian statesman Benjamin Disraeli a whole new look with a Pride-themed Empress of India dress. The redressing was 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 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 gave The Beatles statue on the Pier Head a new look, creating four spectacular hats, each inspired by a different Beatles song to celebrate the iconic band.

As a legacy of the project, the Columbus and Captain Cook redressed statues have become a permanent fixture of Sefton Park. The hats which were made for the Beatles statue are also on display in the British Music Experience.  

The judging panel described Statues Redressed as “a brave and topical documentary highlighting many unknown complexities in our town.”

The two-hour documentary was broadcast on Sky Arts last October.

The win comes just months after another Culture Liverpool project – Liverpool Together won Gold for ‘Best Coverage of an Event’ at the ARIAS. This project marked the first anniversary of the first lockdown which remembered those who lost their lives but also celebrated the incredible community spirit and resilience shown by the people of Liverpool. For more information about the project, head to www.statuesredressed.com

Liverpool’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, Councillor Harry Doyle, said:

“It’s incredibly rare that a local authority scoops a national broadcast award and I’m delighted our unique collaboration with Sky Arts has received this recognition.

“The debate around statues and their relevance in today’s society has really come to the fore over recent years, and Liverpool joined this debate with humour, style and personality.

“We’re a city renowned for pushing cultural boundaries and when we launched this initiative people certainly had an opinion and that was great to hear – we wanted to stimulate conversation and dig into the complexities that arise when we consider who and what the statues in our city represent.

“I’d like to send a huge congratulations to the Culture Liverpool team for this brilliant piece of work which challenged such a prolific topic.”

Director of Culture Liverpool, Claire McColgan CBE, said:

“Statues – and their place in our cities today – has been a hotly debated topic since Black Lives Matter movement and we wanted to explore what our statues mean to us now.

“Like so many of these big challenging questions, we turned to artists to offer a different perspective.

“Through their incredible work we questioned both the new piece of art, as well as considering the original work depicting a particular individual and what they did and believed in.

“It was powerful and symbolic and as well as learning from history, we were able to celebrate how far we have come as a society which will continue to define us in the future.

“This was an incredible partnership between a broadcaster, a city and an independent production company and we want to thank Sky and Northern Town for all of their incredible creativity, commitment and courage.”

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