12 December 2018
A copy of the 'Timepiece' in Shanghai (L) and the original in London (R). Photos: Instagram/Gwctoo; Internet
A copy of the 'Timepiece' in Shanghai (L) and the original in London (R). Photos: Instagram/Gwctoo; Internet

British sculptor outraged at ‘brazen’ China copy of iconic work

A British artist has expressed outrage as one of her famous London sculptures has been “blatantly copied” in Shanghai, describing it as another case of “shameless” art plagiarism in China. 

Wendy Taylor, who was made CBE in 1988 for her contribution to British art, said she was shocked to learn that a sculpture identical to her 1973 work “Timepiece” has been put up amid a housing complex in China’s financial capital.

Britain’s Independent newspaper quoted Taylor as saying that she has seen a photo of the Chinese installation and that it is “almost an exact copy” of her work.

The Chinese structure, which sits amid a blocks of flats on the banks of the Huangpu River, is an affront as it marks unauthorized reproduction of a very personal work, the artist said.

Taylor said she was alerted by an art aficionado who came across the installation while on holiday in Shanghai.

The sculptor’s original work, created as a tribute to the history of the Docklands, has been sitting to Tower Bridge in London for more than four decades.

It was listed as a Grade II structure by the British government in 2004.

Taylor, who is well known in arts circles for being an advocate of putting art onto the streets, said that when she first saw the photo from Shanghai she believed it may be just a Photoshop job.

However, when she looked at it more closely, she realized that it was a “complete copy”, the Independent reported on Sunday.

Everything was similar to her creation, except for a slight difference in the angle of the giant sundial.

“I’m so shocked, it was brazen [to copy it],” Taylor said.

While she is outraged, the artist however said she fears there is nothing she can do to have the apparent plagiarism remedied, according to the British newspaper. 

“To take anyone to court or to do anything about it would be financially out of the question. It makes one so dispirited, it’s very upsetting,” she said. “Chinese laws are very different“.

Taylor said she lodged a complaint with China’s cultural office in London but didn’t receive any reply. The Shanghai municipal government is also said to have not responded to her query.

Her only hope now is that the British Embassy in Beijing will follow up on the matter.

In a report, China’s official Xinhua news agency admitted that copyright violations continue in the country despite an official ban on such activities.

A key reason is that penalties imposed on offenders are not severe enough.

According to Apple Daily, the fake “Timepiece” is not the only knockoff art work in the Dongchang Riverside Greenland residential project in Shanghai’s Pudong district.

There is also a statue looking very much like the “Evert Taube playing the lute”, which was created by the late Swedish sculptor Willy Gordon in 1990 and has been one of the landmarks in Stockholm.

In August last year, British artist Anish Kapoor complained that a sculpture in the Chinese city of Karamay resembles his “Cloud Gate” work, which had been installed in Chicago in 2006.

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