It’s perhaps the most contentious piece of art the city has seen in recent time. The innocuous statue of Ursa itself was much-loved by many Bristolians, quickly becoming adopted as a symbol of the city. But to others, it symbolised the perceived difficulties of St James Barton Roundabout, known locally as the Bearpit.
The 12ft bear statue was the last remaining occupant of the Bearpit after the roundabout was cleared by Bristol City Council and guarded by security during June this year. Whilst the bear remained at this point, the people that frequented the space along with equipment on the site were removed.
Ursa was built by artist Jamie Gillman at the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft (PRSC) and unveiled by former mayor George Ferguson in May 2013.
The Bear was the subject of debate in Full Council after 3500 people signed a petition to save the sculpture following legal notices issued in October 2018 to remove both the bear, storage facilities and community performance space.
The directors of PRSC said in a statement: “In the face of continued threats of legal action from Bristol City Council we are left with no alternative but to comply with the ruling by Marvin Rees and Asher Craig and organise the safe removal of Ursa from the Bearpit.”
Ursa is currently dismantled and undergoing renovation work whilst the PRSC find an appropriate home for the bear.
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