I first heard that Manchester’s city centre had a new statue when pictures appeared on my Twitter timeline on Monday morning. The media coverage of the project had passed me by. For those of you who also missed it, Turner prize-nominated artist Phil Collins has moved a Soviet-era statue of Friedrich Engels from Ukraine and permanently installed it in Manchester as part of the Manchester International Festival. On Sunday, the festival closed and the statue was unveiled as part of a live film event called Ceremony.
My first reaction was anger. Why have we put up a piece of Soviet propaganda in the centre of Manchester? I then wondered what the communities in Manchester who have been affected by communism would think.
My wife is third-generation British Ukrainian. Her grandparents were captured by the Germans and worked in forced labour in Germany