Objectors claim plan to build ‘Amazonian Love God’ statue close to Wakefield Cathedral is ‘attempt to mock Christianity’
Complaints have been made since a planning application was submitted to put a bronze 1.9m tall sculpture on permanent display in the city centre.
The sculpture, by artist Jason Wilsher-Mills, is earmarked for a site near to the cathedral and the entrance to The Ridings shopping centre.
It will also be close to the entrance to the city’s new museum when it is relocated to a former British Homes Stores building.
The statue will be one of five pieces of artwork to be part of a Government-funded £1m sculpture trail through the city centre.
Three people have so far objected since plans were submitted to Wakefield Council last week.
One objection states: “I strongly object to this piece of sculpture being placed in the cathedral precinct and in particular to its sitting so close to the cathedral itself.
“How can you possibly think that the erection of a Sun God opposite the central place of Christian worship in the city and district, could be acceptable?
“It is at best insensitive and at worst a deliberate attempt to mock Christianity, the cathedral and all it stands for. Is this a precedent?
“Should we expect the council to place such offensive statues outside other local centres of worship, Christian and otherwise?”
Another resident opposed to the plan says: “Having a statue like this outside Wakefield Cathedral would completely mock the Christian faith in every way.
“Very wrong in my opinion and needs to be put elsewhere, if anywhere.”
The sculpture was inspired by 19th century conservationist and naturalist Charles Waterton, who opened what is recognised as the world’s first nature reserve in the grounds of his estate near Wakefield.
Waterton has strong links to the city and was a sponsor of Wakefield Museum. The museum housed much of Waterton’s collection of preserved animals, including a prized stuffed caiman, for more than 50 years.
A third objection says: “If the sculpture is to link to Waterton, then it must be recognised that he was a devout Christian himself, and wouldn’t have advocated for something like this.
“I urge the planning authority to carefully consider the probable widespread and negative religious connotation in approving this application.
“I ask that a more appropriate site be found to prevent unnecessary distress to the communities who worship at the cathedral.”
A report submitted to the council as part of the planning application states: “The sculpture aims to connect to the museum by representing Waterton’s Southern American artefacts.
“This collection includes a South American caiman, and the sculptor’s design of a South American God is intended to reflect this interest.”
The sculpture trail will start at Wakefield Westgate station and will end at The Hepworth Wakefield. Other locations include Wakefield One, The Springs and West Yorkshire History Centre.
The project is being fully funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The sculptures are expected to be in place by Summer 2023, subject to planning permission.