Furious locals slam Winchester University’s plan to erect £24,000 statue of Greta Thunberg who has no links with city and demand they put up a tribute to cult hero Kev the Big Issue seller instead
- Winchester University commissioned a life-sized sculpture of Greta Thunberg
- The teen activist’s statue will be erected in the new £50m West Downs Centre
- Decision has left locals furious, suggesting Big Issue seller Kev Collick would be a more popular choice
- The bronze artwork cost the university £23,760 as part of the new development
A university has come under fire for plans to erect a life-size sculpture of Greta Thunberg – with residents saying she has nothing to do with the city.
The £24,000 bronze design sculpture of the environmental campaigner – named ‘Make a Difference’ – was commissioned by Winchester University as an ‘inspiration for all students’.
But many locals have questioned the decision, with some saying a tribute to Kev, the local Big Issue seller, would have been more popular.
It is believed to be the first life-sized depiction of the 18-year-old Swedish activist who gained international attention after starting a school climate strike in 2018.
And now, after a year of work, the statue is ready to be unveiled at the university on March 30.
Winchester University has come under fire for plans to erect a life-size sculpture of Greta Thunberg – with residents saying she has nothing to do with the city
It is believed to be the first life-sized depiction of the 18-year-old Swedish activist who gained international attention after starting a school climate strike in 2018
A spokesperson for Winchester University said: ‘The statue of Greta Thunberg was commissioned in 2019 and funded by the University as part of the West Downs Centre development.
‘The statue cost £23,760, within the overall £50m budget for the West Downs Centre.’
Christine Charlesworth was commissioned to make the artwork in 2019, and has portrayed Greta standing with one of her arms outstretched.
The artist and sculptor of Milford, Surrey, added: ‘The university wanted a sculpture of Greta because it is a very “green” university, and they feel that Greta will be an inspiration to all the students.
‘Originally the interview committee were talking about her sitting on the ground, wearing her yellow coat, but I felt strongly about portraying her telling more about the person she is.’
Many locals have reacted angrily to the decision, with some saying a tribute to Kev Collick, the local Big Issue seller, would have been a more popular choice
However, not everyone in the cathedral city agreed that it was a good way to spend the cash.
Anne Goodchild said that a sculpture of a well known local would have got more support from Winchester residents. She said: ‘[What about] Kev the guy who sells the homeless paper in the high [street]…[he’s] definitely a Winchester icon.’
Kev Collick, who is no longer homeless, has been a fixture of Winchester’s streets for years supporting several charities alongside selling the Big Issue.
The 45-year-old, who found himself on the streets after he was put into care as a child, is regularly spotted donning a Christmas tree costume to raise funds for Children in Need.
Local resident Michelle Coombs added: ‘I think the sculpture itself is very good but Greta has no connection with Winchester, or am I wrong?’
The £24,000 bronze design sculpture of the environmental campaigner – named ‘Make a Difference’ – was commissioned by Winchester University as an ‘inspiration for all students’, and will feature on the new £50million West Downs Centre campus
Simon Dixon said the statue was a ‘total waste of money’ and others questioned whose ‘bright idea’ it was in the first place.
Another, Mark Robinson, agreed but acknowledged students at the university may feel differently.
He said: ‘To be fair Greta probably is inspirational to many of the current generation of students and given that it’s at the university I don’t think there is a particular reason for a strong Winchester connection.
‘Usually statues are erected to reflect a long lasting legacy and that will be the test with this one.’
Some residents were more critical of the statue and suggested that local Winchester ‘icons’ should have been immortalised in bronze instead.
In August 2019 members of Extinction Rebellion organised a ‘Die in’ protest in the affluent Hampshire city where they lay down in the middle of the high street to protest against air quality monitoring on local roads.