Anish Kapoor, whose sculpture ’Sky Mirror’ adorns Casino Square in Monaco, has entered the fray over the removal of British statues that celebrate slave traders

The Turner-prize winning sculptor described the UK prime minister’s opinion on statutes as “bullshit”, adding: “Statues are not history; they are emblematic monuments to our past which can be thought to represent how we see ourselves and our history.

“It is long overdue that we reassess these emblems and get rid of the bigots they portray. We must acknowledge the horror perpetrated in our names by these horrid individuals and seek to find nobler ways to make spaces of commemoration and history. This must now mean looking at the forgotten amongst us,” he said.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had earlier said that removing statues, including those of imperial-era figures, is to “lie about our history”. He tweeted: “We cannot now try to edit or censor our past. We cannot pretend to have a different history. The statues in our cities and towns were put up by previous generations. They had different perspectives, different understandings of right and wrong. But those statues teach us about our past, with all its faults. To tear them down would be to lie about our history and impoverish the education of generations to come.”