Plans for the erection of a 30ft replica statue of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer near the summit of Primrose Hill, London were uncovered this week by local paper Camden New Journal. The news source has allegedly witnessed a series of confidential emails between those on the design team and a select group of Primrose Hill residents which outline the plans of the Brazilian Government to manufacture an imitation of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue with arms outstretched in London in recognition of Brazil’s selection to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
Once the designers - thought to be Camden-based studio See Me, Hear Me, Feel Me Ltd with planning consultants Dalton Warner Davis - have completed their initial interviews with local residents, a planning application will be submitted to Camden Council in February. The Camden New Journal asserts that all those involved have been sworn to secrecy as the Brazilian Government wishes to reveal the statue after the 2012 London Olympic Games so that ‘there is a “wow” factor - and a big surprise - for people living nearby’.
The original statue of Christ the Redeemer (or Cristo Redentor) was constructed between 1922 and 1931 by French sculptor Paul Landowski and Brazilian engingeer Heitor da Silva Costa at the peak of the Corcovado Mountain. With arms outstretched, the image of Christ the Redeemer is a symbol of peace and was erected in recognition of Brazil’s Christian population. It is 39.6m at the tallest point, weighs an astonishing 635 tonnes of reinforced concrete and soapstone, and can be viewed from almost every point in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Plans for an effigy not even a quarter of the original’s height on London’s Primrose Hill have met a largely negative response, with Londoners posting comments on an online article from the Evening Standard announcing the concept. Diana Johnson argues: “The Brazilians’ proposals are in themselves plain daft… The area’s many religions include significant members of the Jewish, Moslem, Hindu and other faiths; can just see the chaos if everybody suddenly demands parity with the Christian totem.”