'They just don't get it right' - Statues that failed to impress

06 November 2018 - 10:21 By Ntokozo Miya
Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni ordered that the statue of Nelson Mandela erected at the provincial legislature be rectified so that it resembles the late statesman.
Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni ordered that the statue of Nelson Mandela erected at the provincial legislature be rectified so that it resembles the late statesman.
Image: Image/Mandla Khoza

For centuries, statues have been used as symbols of appreciation for the life and work of the person they seek to honour. It therefore goes without saying that resemblance is a key aspect of such a token.

It's not surprising then that when a statue of Nelson Mandela was unveiled outside the provincial legislature in Mbombela in September, Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni was not entirely impressed with the work's "artistic deficiencies." 

The statue stands at 6 meters tall and cost  government R8.3-million to create and erect.

Mtsweni's view is that the characteristics of the art piece do not resemble those of the struggle icon. So vast are the differences that even the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union marched to the legislature to protest the statue.

The minister has since instructed the department of sports, arts and culture to rework the statue in an attempt to get a product that actually looks like Mandela.

Another Madiba statue faux pas

It's not the first time Madiba's likeness was distorted. In September the United Nation's statue of Mandela was unveiled in New York and the folks were not impressed. 

The statue is 1.9 meters tall and according to the presidency, "is fitted with former President Nelson Mandela's prison shoes that he wore during his days as political prisoner 46664 on Robben Island."

The public expressed dissatisfaction over the statue's hair and pose. The statue even featured on an episode of Trevor Noah's The Daily Show during which the comedian joked that the pose made the struggle icon look as if he was saying "don't shoot, I'm already dead."

Robbie Malinga statue-tombstone make-over

Celebrities are not immune to such artistic inadequacies, as seen in the case of musician Robbie Malinga. Malinga passed away last year on Christmas Day and was laid to rest in January.

His tombstone by Bataung Memorial Tombstones generated a lot of traction on social media, with people saying the life-sized 'statue-tombstone' looked nothing like music sensation.

The first version of the Robbie Malinga 'satue-tombstone' had to be reworked as it did not resemble the musician.
The first version of the Robbie Malinga 'satue-tombstone' had to be reworked as it did not resemble the musician.
Image: Image/Via Twitter

The tombstone later received a complete make-over, to which Robbie's brother, Bheki Malinga, reacted.

"What I can say is that we are happy with the work. There is so much resemblance now, especially the head."

The Malinga family was happy with this second version of the Robbie Malinga statue-tombstone.
The Malinga family was happy with this second version of the Robbie Malinga statue-tombstone.
Image: Image/Via Facebook

Statue gods desert Cristiano Ronaldo bust

Social media didn't hold back when it ridiculed the statue of Cristiano Ronaldo erected at Portugal's Madeira Airport. The statue was unveiled in 2017 and after negative feedback, the sculptor, Emmanuel Santos, accepted the challenge to recreate the piece this year. 

However, when the artist's second attempt at the footballer's likeness was unveiled in March, The Guardian reported that the results were "disastrous."

Perhaps, where statues are concerned, the masses should embrace the saying which goes "it's the thought that counts" and not have high expectations.

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