A bronze statue of Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has been unveiled outside the University of Winchester in the south of England.
The university bills itself as "green and sustainable”, and the statue is meant to serve as inspiration for students at the school.
The artist behind the statue is Christine Charlesworth, who had been selected from several candidates. The work to portray the teenage climate activist, which is hailed as the first life-sized image of Thunberg, took over a year.
"I watched a lot of videos on YouTube and downloaded almost all the pictures of Greta before starting the work", Christine Charlesworth told Swedish national broadcaster SVT.
Charlesworth said she initially thought of portraying Greta sitting in her trademark yellow jacket, but later changed her mind to depict her standing with a finger pointed "as a confident speaker, but who is not so confident in her body language".
However, the statue sparked an argument, not least among the students themselves. The price tag for the statue was £24,000 ($33,000), spurring labels such as "vanity project". While the student union suggested that the funds could have been better spent, the university assured that no money was diverted from student support or staffing for the project, the BBC reported.
Although the university itself called Thunberg "inspirational", many on social media thought differently.
Some wondered about the environmental effect of the statue itself, suggesting that it goes against what Greta Thunberg herself, a vegetarian who doesn't fly to limit her carbon footprint, preaches.
How much CO2 was generated in the production of that statue.— Le Ref (@LeRef5) March 30, 2021
Genuine question:— Tom- The Sales Bull 🎯 (@TheSalesBull1) March 30, 2021
What is the carbon footprint of the manufacture and installation of this statue, and will @_UoW be paying to have it offset?
Electricity to cast this bronze could have been used to light lecture theatres for learning. However, Greta doesn't really do studying.— Eyespeeled (@Eyespeeled3) March 30, 2021
Fortunately some Swedish scientists have: pic.twitter.com/fy4leC0miJ
Others found the image "as pathetic as it is disturbing".
This is as pathetic as it is disturbing.— Bolton James (@waschops) March 30, 2021
Still others dubbed the statue "a patron saint of prostate exams", alluding to the pointed finger.
The patron saint of prostate exams?— 🎧🎵🎶 James Masterton (@ChartUpdate) March 30, 2021
Yet other netizens called Winchester the "University of the Woke" and bluntly suggested to dispose of the statue by "throwing it into the f****g river".
Throw it in the fuckin' River.— Johan Bale (@JohnBale72) March 30, 2021