A slave trader’s 316-year-old portrait has been removed from the Lord Mayor’s parlour in Bristol’s City Hall.
Edward Colston’s image has belonged to Bristol City Council for decades and has hung in the office of the Lord Mayor since at least 1953, when the City Hall was opened.
But Councillor Cleo Lake, the ceremonial mayor of Bristol, decided she could not share her working space with the image, which dates back to 1702.
“I’m coming to the end of my first month in office, and this is my parlour, which is a lovely space” Lake said, BristolLive reports.
“I spend a lot of time here, I’m here nearly every day. I won’t be comfortable sharing it with the portrait of Colston.
“As part of my role in campaigning with the Countering Colston team, I also think it’s fitting that I don’t share this office with the portrait.
“Luckily, there’s been a lot of support and the council has agreed to take it down and today is the day it goes into storage.”
The Countering Colston campaign group challenges the promotion of the slave trader’s life and aims to “decolonise Bristol”, according to its website.
Lake said she wanted the portrait to be put in a museum to show Bristol’s role in the slave trade and its abolition.
Explaining her own heritage, Lake said: “I was born in Bristol. I am first-generation Bristolian. My father was a proud African man born in Jamaica and my mother is of Scottish heritage, so I am Campbell by clan on my mother’s side,” the Guardian reports.
The painting has been replaced temporarily with a painting of a lion, which Lake said she had bought at a Help Bristol’s Homeless action.
Colston is currently commemorated throughout Bristol and there are many roads, schools, pubs and businesses named after the slave trader.
He was born in the city in 1636 and much of his wealth was acquired through the trade and exploitation of slaves.
Last year Bristol’s Colston Hall dropped the name of the slave trader following protests.
The popular concert venue, which hosted acts such as the Beatles, Bob Dylan and David Bowie, will reopen with a new name following a refurbishment in 2020.