It caught my eye at once the first time I saw it. Maybe, that’s what’s supposed to happen, so that people don’t go past it without taking a good look and, perhaps, some pictures. I was curious to see how and why it would come to existence, so I’ve dug out some info and video about the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square and the sculptures it has held.
The Royal Society for the Encouragement Manufactures and Commerce commissioned a series of artists to temporarily exhibit some of their works there. The plinth was designed in 1847 by Sir Charles Barry to hold an equestrian statue which could not be finished, due to lack of funds. So, I guess that the RSA was just revisiting an old idea, especially after Trafalgar Square was re-done following an expensive project and the idea of an empty fourth plinth wouldn’t probably fit well into their plans.
The idea proved successful and the Mayor even started a specific programme to show off London as a go-to city for the arts.
One of the most interesting aspects for me is that these art works challenge people’s perceptions, even to the point of being controversial. In fact, this is an aspect that I have seen in all art related works and events in London. Two examples of controversial sculptures that have been displayed on the fourth plinth are Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant (2005) and the current blue cockerel, Hahn/ Cock, by Katharina Fristsh (2013)
Marc Quinn’s featured the artist Alison Lapper heavily pregnant, and many took it as a celebration of disability, etc. But, many others thought it challenged perceptions in non-positive way.
A London-based conservation group even tried to stop the blue cockerel from being exhibited. To me, it feels rather strange that an emblem in France was even considered.
You can take a look at some pictures of the previous commissions.
Which one is your fave?
Thanks for reading my post.
A Londoner from Afar