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Bristol Post
Bristol Post
Tristan Cork

Man who put Star Wars droid on Colston's plinth rescues it from council tip

An artist who built a full size Star Wars robot droid and put it on top of Edward Colston's empty plinth in Bristol had to rescue it, after council waste workers took it down and sent it to the tip.

Sculptor Simon Thomas had fitted his 7ft tall battle droid creation with a tracking device, which meant when the artwork disappeared within hours of appearing on Friday morning, he was able to see where it had been taken to, and go and ask for it back.

And the workers at Bristol Waste's Hartcliffe Way household recycling centre in Bedminster were able to check that it was the droid Simon was looking for, so were happy to hand it back. Simon said he's now planning to auction it off in aid of the Wallace & Gromit Children's Foundation, which is part of the The Grand Appeal for Bristol's Royal Hospital for Children.

Read next: Star Wars battle droid disappears from Colston's controversial plinth

The droid appeared on the empty plinth in The Centre in Bristol before dawn on Good Friday and immediately sparked interest, with people saying on social media they were travelling miles to come and see it, with others less enamoured with the idea of using the empty plinth of a slave trader's statue to display such a work of art.

Simon said he planned to keep the work up for the Easter weekend and promised to remove it on Monday, but it seems Bristol City Council took a dim view of the idea too - and by lunchtime on Friday, the new addition to the city's art landscape had been taken down by Bristol Waste workers and rather unceremoniously carted off on the back of a small, flatbed lorry.

Simon was able to activate the tracker he had installed in case the piece was stolen, and saw that it was at the household recycling centre in South Bristol. "I had a Apple AirTag installed inside the model so was able to track where it was taken," he said. "I then travelled to the location and explained that I would like it back and they were kind enough to return it to me with only slight damage.

"I am now fixing a few bumps and scratches and will be auctioning it off for the Wallace & Gromit’s children’s foundation," he confirmed.

The robot droid's time on top of the plinth was even shorter than a lifesize sculpture of Jen Reid, which was put on the plinth a few weeks after the Colston statue was toppled in June 2020. The sculpture, by artist Marc Quinn, was taken down on the orders of the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, just less than 24 hours after it was first put up.

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