London’s Fourth Plinth

Trafalgar Square in London is not only home to the infamous Nelson’s Column, but also fountains, and four plinths in each corner of the square. In the southern corners, the plinths are topped with statues of Henry Havelock and Charles James Napier (army generals), while the plinth in the north east corner is topped with a statue of George IV (former King of England) on a horse.

The plinth standing in the northwestern corner was due to have a statue of William IV, also on a horse, but the funds ran out before the statue was created, and the plinth remained empty since 1841 when it was originally built. For over 150 years, it must have been really odd to see an empty plinth, and while these days it would probably be seen as some kind of statement, plans were put in place in 1999 to finally put something on top of it. For a while, the Royal Society of Arts ran the Fourth Plinth Project, which saw art installations temporarily top the plinth. After deeming it a success, the project was continued by the London Culture Team and has seen various art pieces continue to top the plinth.

Some of the most recent pieces include Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, which was a massive bottle – huge! – with a ship in it. Another was a piece called ‘One & Other’ which saw a total of 2,400 members of the public stand on the plinth for an hour each. They could do whatever they wanted and take with them whatever they could carry. I think this was a great idea, though it could have turned out really badly as I have no idea what I’d do for an hour on top of the plinth, and everything could be taken and interpreted artistically.

Therefore, what may have originally been someone playing their favourite song on a saxophone could turn into a protest against the oppression of people in a tiny village in Somerset. Nope, it was just someone playing their favourite song.Fourth Plinth in London's Trafalgar Square

The plinth has recently received it’s newest art piece, named Gift Horse. Considering the original plan for the plinth (back in 1841) was to have a king on a horse, I think this latest piece is appropriate. The sculpture is a skeletal horse with a ribbon around it’s neck displaying the live ticker from the London Stock Exchange, to show the link between money, power and history. I’m not an art buff, so I don’t quite get the link with the power, but the history and money link I can see.

It looks great as the sun sets, as the ribbon is really pronounced and the horse looks quite deathly. If you are in the area, head to Trafalgar Square to check it out – it’s planned to be there until some time in 2016, when it’s going to be replaced by a massive thumbs up, which I can’t wait for!


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