Monday, November 21, 2022

Trafalgar Square: Fourth Plinth

London The Unfinished City
Nelson's Ship in a Bottle.

Ever since Trafalgar Square was opened, in 1844, one of its plinths, situated in the northwest of the square, has remained empty. The other three plinths have statues of King George IV, General Sir Charles James Napier and Major-General Sir Henry Havelock.

It was supposed to have a statue of King William IV affixed, but a lack of funds left the plinth unadorned.

In 1998, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce commissioned three contemporary sculptures to be temporarily displayed on the plinth. 

Shortly afterwards the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, commissioned a report to seek public opinion on what should happen with the fourth plinth.

The report recommended a rolling programme of temporary artworks rather than a permanent figure. 

Ownership of Trafalgar Square was transferred from Westminster City Council to the Mayor of London, in 2003, which marked the beginning of the Mayor of London's Fourth Plinth Commission.

For me, personally, I would like to see an equestrian statue of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II mounted to the top, in recognition of her exceptional reign and dedication to country and commonwealth.

Fourth Plinth Project: 1999-2001

  1. Ecce Homo by Mark Wallinger (1999)
  2. Regardless of History by Bill Woodrow (2000)
  3. Monument by Rachel Whiteread (2001)
Fourth Plinth Commission: 2005–present
  1. Alison Lapper Pregnant by Marc Quinn (2005-2007)
  2. Model for a Hotel by Thomas Schütte (2007)
  3. One & Other by Antony Gormley (2009)
  4. Nelson's Ship on a Bottle by Yinka Shonibare (2010-2012)
    London The Unfinished City
    Nelson's Ship in a Bottle.

  5. Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset (2012-2013)
    London The Unfinished City
    Powerless Structures, Fig. 101.

  6. Hahn/Cock by Katharina Fritsch (2013-2015)
  7. Gift Horse by Hans Haacke (2015-2016)
    London The Unfinished City
    Gift Horse.

  8. Really Good by David Shrigley (2016-2018)
  9. The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist by Michael Rakowitz (2018-2020)
  10. The End by Heather Phillipson (2020-2022)
    London The Unfinished City
    The End.

  11. Antelope by Samson Kambalu (2022-2024)
London The Unfinished City
12. 850 Improntas by Teresa Margolles (2024-)

In 2009 a 5-metre high fibreglass statue of Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park was placed on the fourth plinth for six months. This was in recognition of his work as commander of No. 11 Group RAF, as this was the Group responsible for the defence of London during the Battle of Britain.

London The Unfinished City
Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park.

A bronze statue of Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park now stands near St James's Park, and was unveiled on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

One of these installations, Nelson's Ship in a Bottle, can now be seen outside the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

London The Unfinished City
Victory at the National Maritime Museum.

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