Grantham artist says reaction to his Margaret Thatcher statue has put a smile on his face
A Grantham artist says the reaction to his Margaret Thatcher statue which he placed on St Peter's Hill on Sunday has put a smile on his face.
Mark Roberts, who uses the pseudonym MarkRobla, placed his own statue on the plinth in the town centre ahead of a 12 foot bronze statue due to be placed there by the council.
Mr Roberts, 34, who teaches art, placed his statue depicting Mrs Thatcher's head on a spike on the plinth at 4am on Sunday.
He told the Journal: "At the end of the day, not that art has to be controversial, when you see this kind of reaction it's positive to me. No matter how negative people are, it has put a smile on my face."
Mr Roberts sculpted Mrs Thatcher's face out of a block of plaster. He had intended to sculpt a full body for the display, but decided against it as it would be too heavy to place on the plinth. Instead the head has been put on top of a 'spike' made out of table legs.
The artist has also included Mrs Thatcher's iconic handbag at the foot of the statue.
Mr Roberts says he has saved the council thousands of pounds by erecting his own statue. Mr Roberts said: "I saved the council £400k and displayed my new piece. It depicts Margaret Thatcher's head stuck onto a pike made from an office chair, standing at 5ft 3in on the 10ft plinth while still clasping her iconic handbag at the base, all carved completely from plaster.
"I paid about £5 for the chair and took it apart. There were two metal poles inside which I made into a pike and the base of the chair helps balance the sculpture.
"It took about four months to complete and with materials it cost about £100 in total."
The sculpture remained where it was for much of the day but was later removed. Mr Roberts says he was not asked to remove it. He says he was able to get to the plinth because there as an opening in the fence around it.
He said: "The fence was open and I just skipped through. There was a taxi driver nearby, but that was it. I have heard nothing from the council."
Mr Roberts has lived in Grantham for two years since moving here from his native Wales. He says his sculpture was not driven by politics but his work is about finding a task which "makes life worth living".
"I am from North Wales and Thatcher was never loved there. But I am surprised here how much many people still do love her."
Mr Roberts said he did not believe he had broken the law in putting his work on the plinth which he said was the only location for the sculpture. He said: "It simply would not have had the same reaction if I had put it somewhere else."
A £300,000 bronze statue of the Iron Lady, by sculptor Douglas Jennings, will sit on the 10ft plinth (making it 20ft tall overall), on St Peter’s Hill green. It was brought to the town by Grantham Museum, SKDC and the Public Memorials Appeal.
The unveiling of the statue has been delayed by the pandemic. South Kesteven District Council has underwritten the unveiling ceremony to the tune of £100,000, but it says that the costs of the ceremony will be covered by private donations.
A spokesman for SKDC said: "The council has dismantled the unauthorised artwork and made the area safe for members of the public. We are also liaising with the police regarding this matter."