A statue of Margaret Thatcher, by Neil Simmons, that was originally installed in London’s Guildhall Art Gallery in 2002 – when Just a few months later, it made the news after the statue was decapitated by a protesting vandal – has been moved to a remote corner, off-limits to the casual visitor. But the Guild Hall has denied that it was “banishing” the former PM’s effigy, the Telegraph reports.
A museum spokesman said the sculpture, was moved during a rehanging process, and left in the new spot due to its flattering light. But this now means that the statue can only be seen upon request.
Thatcher’s statue was commissioned in 1998 by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee and was unveiled by the lady herself. Since its unveiling, the £150,000, eight-foot-tall sculpture has had a reasonably eventful life. In 2002, shortly after it was installed at the Guildhall, a vandal named Paul Kelleher burst into the gallery space with a cricket bat concealed down a trouser-leg and proceeded to knock the statue for six. Not satisfied with the outcome, the theatre producer then battered the sculpture with a metal rope stanchion, knocking its proverbial block off.
The vandal then waited quietly for police to arrest him, stating of the sculpture upon his capture by Police: “I think it looks better like that.” Later during his trial, Kelleher said that his attack on the artwork was a form of “artistic expression” – which seems to be the standard fall-back defence for anyone punching paintings, or inking sheep – and that he did it to exercise his “right to interact with this broken world.” In 2003, the artistic vandal was sentenced to three months in prison.
After being repaired, the £150,000 sculpture went back on display in the main gallery. It will now be accessible to visitors of the building but only upon request, after being placed in a corridor near to a Restoration era coat of arms. A spokesman for the gallery said the move was part of the £600,000 gallery refurbishment, giving Baroness Thatcher the same status as other statues of Sir Winston Churchill, the Duke of Wellington and Sir John Cass.
He added the new location was around 25m from the main gallery, where visitors to the Guildhall – usually there for business or social reasons – could still see it.