Kitsch and hideous or poignant and graceful? It’s fair to say public reaction to the eagerly awaited statue of Princess Diana has been mixed.
After being commissioned four years ago by her sons, princes William and Harry, the statue of remembrance of the late Princess of Wales surrounded by three children was unveiled by the brothers yesterday.
“Today, on what would have been our mother’s 60th birthday, we remember her love, strength and character – qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better,” William and Harry said in a statement. “It has been more than 20 years since our mother’s death and the time is right to recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world with a permanent statue.”
The bronze memorial, designed by artist Ian Rank-Broadley, has been placed in the Sunken Garden of her former home at Kensington Palace, London.
The statue of Di, dressed in a belted pencil skirt and blouse, is surrounded by her favourite flowers: 500 lavender plants, 300 tulips, 200 roses and 100 forget-me-nots, which workers reportedly spent 1 000 hours perfecting.
But the monument has caused a buzz online. "Kitsch and archaic" was the verdict of the Telegraph UK's chief art critic, Alastair Sooke.
The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones slammed it as a “spiritless and characterless hunk of nonsense”, dismissing it as a religious image that shamelessly plays up to the most mawkish aspects of Diana worship.
BBC Radio 4’s official Twitter account was reported to have liked a tweet that called the statue “hideous”, but a spokesperson from the BBC has since called the like an accident.
“It's an uncontroversial, accessible representation of a female icon. Is it good art? Well, that depends on your taste,” art critic Elizabeth Fullerton told the BBC.
Former host of Good Morning Britain Piers Morgan also weighed in on Twitter. “Let’s be honest – it’s not a great statue of Diana,” he posted.
The ceremony took place with just a small crowd who watched as the brothers unveiled the statue of their mother by pulling off a green cloth at the big reveal. Tessa Dunlop, TV presenter and historian, suggested that the inability to capture the princess’ beauty might have been deliberate.
“Perhaps the artist recognised he couldn’t match Diana’s beauty, so instead chose to focus on her unique ability to reach out to others,” she said. Others believe the monument created by the artist is a beautiful way to celebrate the People’s Princess and her life’s work.
“With this poignant memorial, the artist has created a characterful depiction of Diana, which does her justice, Ruth Millington, art historian and critic said. “Rank-Broadley has managed to capture the many sides of Diana with this complex statue: she's determined and graceful, brooding and warm, commanding and compassionate.”
SOURCES: BBC.COM, USMAGAZINE.COM, METRO.CO.UK, SMH.COM.AU