Removal of Statues

Tuesday, 13 June 1995; 23:12 pm

From: Alasdair McKay, Nova Scotia, Canada
To: Janet Mackay, Nova Scotia, Canada
Cc: Tom McRae, Queensland, Australia

Subject: Re: I have it!

The removal of things like statues for other than some purely practical purpose like letting bigger boats into a harbour (perhaps the Colossus did not actually go in that manner) seems to me to be an inappropriate thing to do in most cases.

When I was in Russia about two and a half years ago, the place was still full of Soviet statues and other such material emblems. Some were artistic eyesores, but others were anything but that--- pure gems of artistry (The curtain at the Bolshoi Theatre, for example was a thing of real beauty -- subtle mosaic of hammers and sickles woven into the fabric.) Too many statues of Lenin to be sure, but I would be sad to see them all go. Somehow I do not think they will.

Another example from the Bolshoi are the two heads of Lenin which adorned the architrave of the proscenium (presumably one had been added to replace one of Stalin). All that seemed necessary as an appropriate alteration to make these heads entirely fitting to their location was to make one of the two rather stern visages smile.

People all too easily forget the past -- even the day before yesterday. Things like statues can be good reminders whether of good or ill, or even of neither, if the person portrayed has become quite obscure and the reminder is just one of how well or badly an art form had developed at some date. (The Mona Lisa, for example.)

Some of the most repressive regimes produce fine art. Do we intend to destroy the renaissance art of Florence or the other cities of Northern Italy, for example, in order to expunge the memory of families like the Macchiaveli or the Borgia? - Or for that matter the wonders of Rome or Egypt.

I think that the only more telling and enduring memorial to the clearances than the pillar at Golspie is the statue in the Nave of Dornoch cathedral, unless there be one to be found in the continued prattlings of such as us.

Alasdair McKay

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