‘Love God’ sculptor thanks the people of Wakefield as council chiefs defend city’s newest piece of public art

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The artist behind Wakefield’s controversial “Amazon Love God” statue has sent a public thank you to the city’s residents for supporting his work.

The 1.9m (6ft 2in) bronze sculpture by local artist Jason Wilsher-Mills is part of a £1m government-funded art trail in the city.

Dozens of people objected to the work, claiming its location by the cathedral was “an affront” to Christianity.

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Since the statue was officially unveiled last week, it has also attracted criticism on social media.

Artist Jason Wilsher-Mills pictured with his 'Amazon love God' statueArtist Jason Wilsher-Mills pictured with his 'Amazon love God' statue
Artist Jason Wilsher-Mills pictured with his 'Amazon love God' statue

Opponents have called it a “waste of money”, with others claiming funding should have instead been spent on filling potholes in the district’s roads.

Despite the outcry, Mr Wilsher-Mills has thanked people for the positive reaction to his work.

In a video message, he said: “There is a story about this sculpture that goes all the way back to my time as a young lad in Ossett, Gawthorpe and Eastmoor, and there is a love story there.

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“It’s a sculpture about disability activism because I am an artist who uses a wheelchair.

“I just want to say thank you to the people of Wakefield for embracing this sculpture and being the first city in the country to have a piece of work by a disabled artist about disability on permanent display in the city centre, which is absolutely fantastic.”

Commenting on his creation, the artist said: “There’s things about mum and dad falling in love, who were my carers as a young lad.

“There’s stuff about Charles Waterton.

“There’s things about Wakefield itself. Characters that I used to know doing the Westgate Run.

“There is something for everybody in there.

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“It’s about hope, it’s about disability, it’s about Charles Waterton, it’s about Wakefield and it’s about us.

“It’s about us caring about each other, which is good.

“So, thank you Wakefield.”

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Read more: First pictures of Wakefield’s new ‘Amazon love God’ statue

Senior councillors defended the sculpture as they discussed plans for a year-long celebration of culture and creativity in 2024.

On Tuesday, cabinet members gave the go-ahead to the £4.4m “Our Year” project, which features a programme of activity in communities across the district.

It is hoped the scheme will bring visitors and investment into the area.

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Council leader Denise Jeffery acknowledged the statue had been “controversial”, but added: “I know that negative people have said ‘why don’t you spend it on potholes’.

“Unfortunately, the public don’t quite understand that we get offered money from the government for specific things like culture.

“We do see ourselves as the city of culture. Our Year will be very special.

“Hopefully there will be something for everyone.”

Michael Graham, cabinet member of regeneration, said the Our Year project offered a chance for people to celebrate the district’s heritage.

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“It’s going to iconic”, he said, “Just like the Amazonian Love God.

“I have been waiting for the rain to go off so I can get down there and get a lovely picture with it.

“There is a great story behind it.”

Michael Morley, cabinet member for planning and highways, said: “What a boring world we are living in if every single penny has to be spent on potholes.

“The reaction that we have seen on social media has been absolutely ridiculous. People have been slating it.

“It’s been nice when people have actually been down and seen it and changed their opinion.”