A sculptor has admitted that he has been met with a tirade of abuse for his statue of the 19th century explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.
Nick Elphick, from Llandudno, Wales, who spent two years crafting the tribute to Sir Henry, has been hit with criticism for his bronze statue which pays homage to the colonial administrator who is famed for rescuing the missionary David Livingstone in 1871.
The crafter, who spent £30,000 to create his piece, described being woken up to calls from friends desperate to rescue his sculpture earlier this month after more than 1,500 signed a petition for the removal of the sculpture.
Mr Elphick, whose inbox has also been flooded with a torrent of abusive messages, said: ‘I had no idea what was happening, I was like ”what the f**k is going on?”
Sculptor Nick Elphick, who spent two years crafting the tribute to Sir Henry Morton Stanley, has been hit with a wave of criticism
The 19th century explorer (pictured is Mr Elphick’s statue of Sir Henry Morton Stanley) went on to create the Congo Free State with support from King Leopold II of Belgium
‘I gave my heart and soul to this piece. I was commissioned to do it. Now with all this hate, I’ve had people coming to me being really rude on email or Facebook. They don’t have anything intelligent to say.
‘I’ve had to delete the whole lot of comments because you don’t want people believing it.
‘It’s heartbreaking to feel that my work and HM Stanley’s history is being scorned. I am fearful that I’m being judged badly which hurts.
‘I’m frightened because I don’t want people to judge me as this racist or stupid little person who wasn’t thinking at the time and just wanted to make money.
‘Whereas others have still been very angry and sending information about HM Stanley from all these activists – which I think it’s disgraceful. I think it’s awful that they’re not showing two sides.
‘As part of being a public sculptor, you have to have a thick skin. Whether it’s dealing with people who don’t like the sculpture or the person.
‘You have to be able to stand up for yourself. I hate that people think I had just done it for a job and went ahead while believing he was a racist. They started asking why I was sculpting him and getting aggressive.’
Born John Rowlands on January 28, 1841 in Denbigh, Wales, Henry Morton Stanley, migrated to New Orleans in 1859 and soon crossed paths with the wealthy local cotton merchant by the name Henry Stanley whose name he soon adopted.
After serving in the American Civil War and working as a sailor, Sir Henry went on to reinvent himself as a special correspondent for the New York Herald in 1867.
The statue created by Mr Elphick was placed in Denbigh in Wales in 2011 and funded by Denbighshire County Council and St Asaph town councils
The 19th century explorer (left) had roads, outposts and even a railroads built in the Congo with the support of King Leopold II of Belgium (right)
Last month the statue of the 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was thrown into the harbour in Bristol
Just two years later the paper sent Sir Henry in search of the missionary David Livingstone, who had not been seen since 1866 when he had set off to search for the source of the Nile.
In 1871, Sir Henry reached Zanzibar and soon found Livingstone near his last known location on Lake Tanganyika.
Following Dr Livingstone’s death, Sir Henry went to Asante in 1873, which is now part of Ghana, as a war correspondent for the New York Herald and in 1874 published Coomassie and Magdala: The Story of Two British Campaigns in Africa.
After failing to enlist British interests, he then went on to create the Congo Free State with the support from King Leopold II of Belgium in 1879.
Following his travels he went on to become MP for Lambeth between 1895-1900 and earned a knighthood in the 1899 Birthday Honours.
Mr Elphick, who is adamant that people should research how the Democratic Republic of Congo loved Sir Henry, has been in contact with Congolese historian and author Norbert Mbu-Mputu – to prove the explorer was not involved in the African slave trade.
His piece was funded by Denbighshire County Council, Denbigh and St Asaph town councils, and visited by a Congolese delegation five years later.
He continued: ‘I would have never done it if I knew he was involved in slavery.’
Workers remove the statue of Edward Colston from the Bristol Harbour on June 11 after it was thrown in amid the anti-racism protests
He expressed sympathy towards the sculptor of Edward Colston – which was pulled down during the Black Lives Matter protests.
He added: ‘I feel so sorry for the artist who made the piece and can’t defend themselves today. They’re going to be completely forgotten about.
‘I feel for that side which people don’t really see. It’s like taking historical pieces out of the city.
‘We need them to see the history of the person, instead of destroying it. I do feel for the people that wanted it down so desperately but also, what’s going to happen now?
‘It’s so important that black lives matter but we need to think careful about how we pursue these things.’
Gwyneth Kensler, of Denbighshire County Council, has stated that Sir Henry was not responsible for the atrocities of his employer in the Congo Free State, King Leopold II of Belgium.
The controversy comes after the Edward Colston monument was knocked into the Bristol harbour, and a statue of Winston Churchill was defaced during BLM protests.
The anti-racist protesters scrawled ‘was a racist’ on the wartime British Prime Minister.
Sir Henry Morton Stanley and the Congo Free State
Born John Rowlands on January 28, 1841 in Denbigh, Wales, Henry Morton Stanley, migrated to New Orleans in 1859.
Shortly after docking at New Orleans, Sir Henry took the name of the wealthy local cotton merchant Henry Stanley and claimed to be his adopted son.
He went on to serve in the American Civil War and also worked as a sailor, before reinventing himself as a special correspondent for the New York Herald in 1867.
The paper sent Sir Henry in search of the missionary David Livingstone, who had not been seen since 1866 when he had set off to search for the source of the Nile.
In November 1971, Sir Henry finally found a sick Dr Livingstone at his last known port of cal on Lake Tanganyika and greeted him with the famous words: ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume?’
Following Dr Livingstone’s death in 1873, Sir Henry decided to continue exploring the region and travelled down the length of the Lualaba and Congo Rivers.
He went to Asante in 1873, which is now part of Ghana, as a war correspondent for the New York Herald and in 1874 published ‘Coomassie and Magdala: The Story of Two British Campaigns in Africa’.
In 1879, after failing to enlist British interests, King Leopold II of Belgium supported Sir Henry in his quest to develop the Congo.
The king’s secret ambition was to annex the region for himself.
From August 1879 to June 1884, Sir Henry had roads, outposts and even railroads built in the country and soon earned the nickname ‘Bula Matari’ or ‘Breaker of Rocks’.
The effort paved the way for the creation of the Congo Free State under the sovereign power of King Leopold.