Cecil Rhodes statue, Oriel College, Oxford, 2016
by John Goto
On the façade of Oriel College’s Rhodes Building are seven commissioned statues by the sculptor Henry Alfred Pegram (1862 – 1937). By far the best of the group is the uppermost figure, which is of Cecil Rhodes. The subject exhibits a casual, somewhat unassuming stance as he glances down with hat in hand. Below a large inscription reads 'e Larga MVnIfICentIa CaeCILI rhoDes' (Out of the splendid generosity of Cecil Rhodes).
Recently there have been calls for the removal of the Rhodes statue. Galvanized by the success of the Rhodes Must Fall movement at the University of Cape Town, a pressure group was formed in Oxford, which at the time of writing (18/01/ 2016) has already had some success in persuading Oriel College to remove a plaque dedicated to Rhodes from one of its other buildings. The College has now entered into a consultation period with interested parties regarding the future of the monument. Artist John Goto offers his contribution to the debate with the above picture.