Merseyside – the home of Roger McGough, Willy Russell and the Beatles. But it seems that despite the area’s reputation as a hotbed of the arts, not all Liverpool’s institutions of higher learning are too keen on resisting the tide of iconoclasm sweeping through Britain’s universities.
For in the aftermath of the protests which followed George Floyd’s murder last year, institutes across the UK faced demands to remove busts, paintings and statues accused of glorifying imperialism or slavery. Works withdrawn include a monument to Sir John Cass at the University of East London while at Oxford there have been renewed efforts to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College.
And it appears that Liverpool University is not exempt from such sentiments. For Mr S has discovered that staff there recently purged a picture which has hung on its walls for decades. The offending work in question is an oil painting by local artist Peter MacKarell, titled ‘Charge of the Texas Dragoons at the Bandoleer Crossing.’ Purchased in 1967, the painting was removed in August this year from the Harold Cohen Library.
Its crime? According to a Freedom of Information request, ‘concerns had been raised about its depiction of Confederate troops carrying the Confederate flag going into battle with Union troops during the American Civil War.’ This is despite the university itself noting that the work is of a fictitious scene, of the kind found in classic ‘Western’ novels.
If fictional depictions in historic settings are now forbidden, let’s just hope that Gone with the Wind won’t be banned from the same library’s bookshelves anytime soon.
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