Bertrand Russell … and accessibility

Camden is rethinking our local statues.
We were asked to think about some of the statues – and also think what we would truly like to commemorate.
I couldnt go to the first session as the venue is not accessible.
So that’s my first idea: get accessible! Lets make venues accessible – and then commemorate accessibility!

We focussed on / thought about the Bertrand Russell bust – above – in Red Lion Square.
Its one of the many statues of rich white old men in Camden.
I confess to not thinking of Bertrand Russell (Bertie) as a priority for commemoration.
He’s famous for his eugenic views. His “wheeze … would have made even Nazi Germany’s eugenicists blush. He suggested the state issue colour-coded ‘procreation tickets‘. Those who dared breed with holders of a different-coloured ticket would face a heavy fine.”
And he seems to have had homophobic views – whilst rumoured to have himself been homosexual.

I wanted to commemorate the diverse and amazing people who live in Camden. So I set out to sculpt an ‘everyperson’ head.
I asked for help with this. Actually, my hands are so weak that the lady in the photo below made two half-dome halves for the head for me. Which even I could then manage to stick together.
And cut angles into it for cheekbones and the nose and so on.
As I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t have time to get the lips right. And then I couldn’t go back another time to finish it off.
So the lips are not at all done, but – I think – somehow they’re beautifully ugly as they are.

My ‘everyperson’ is on the right if you’re facing the plinth, alongside other contributions from other people at the workshop. Patricia Forrest MBE is on the left, and there’s a piano to praise a superb mum/pianist/teacher.
Please note the sculpted pigeon – thanks Jill – (pooing) on Bertie’s head.
One of the workshop leaders gave Bertie a rainbow scarf and fur coat – to commemorate what he maybe SHOULD have thought and said about the LGBTQI community.

To be fair, I did change my mind a bit about some aspects of Bertie.
He was very good about changing his mind – as here above.
I love changing my mind – when I get new facts. But I do think that it’s Bertie’s class and money that allowed him to have the luxury of (forever) changing his mind.
Bertie also did a short video speaking to the future.
Which is us!
In that video, Bertie said that “When you are studying any matter… ask yourself only ‘what are the facts …'”. Which is what I’ve done by sort-of changing my mind. The second point he made was about how important it is to tolerate each other: “Love is wise. Hatred is foolish.”

I led an ‘opening’ speech – a spoof of an appeal letter for funding the bust, shown below:.

I made an appeal for the Red lion DIY memorial, involving No lords, or Sirs, or MPs or barons:

To all those who donated their Creativity to the appeal
Many thanks for your donation of clay well worked.
All has gone well and you are invited to attend the unveiling of the memorial at 12 midday date date in the garden of the red Lion Square.
No Lords will preside over the ceremony, and no fourth wifes will unveil our work.

The idea of the memorial started from us sitting around talking and listening to each other.
We took the matter up with no Lords or Appeal committees.
We are glad to say that the Mayor of Camden will speak on behalf of the borough.

After the Appeal, everyone was invited to a picnic on the benches of the Red Lion Gardens.

1 thought on “Bertrand Russell … and accessibility”

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