In the open public space Millennium Square, Bristol, UK there is a statue to the Quaker, William Penn. It is yet another uncritical public portrayal of William Penn – no word here, in the old slaving port of Bristol, of Penn being a slave owner, nor is there any mention of the displacement of Native Americans or the despoilation of a wilderness. Rather there is a poorly crafted scroll with the words: “Death is but crossing the World as Friends do the seas, they live in one another still.“
Penn’s statue stands with those of three other men with Bristol-ish connections: Cary Grant (actor), William Tyndale (15th century translator of the bible into English) and Thomas Chatterton (poet). All the pieces are by the US-born artist Lawrence Holofcener and, to my mind, the Penn piece is particularly awful!