Views of the fourth plinth

When I first moved to London, Trafalgar Square had an empty fourth plinth and a road need to be crossed to get from the National Gallery to the square itself. How weird and alien that world must have been. The fourth plinth with its revolving cast of art is now a part of London life, if only so people can be outraged by it or declare how bored and uninterested they are. Loudly. Going over my flickr it appears I’ve taken snaps of a few of the art-things that have happened on top of plinth four so here’s a bit of peramble round them …

This fellow is Thomas Schütte’s Model for a Hotel. I saw it on a grey day when the colourful interplay of light that were promised was a bit of a pipe dream. It did at least fill the plinth and drew people to look at it. I don’t think anybody was too disappointed when it was eventually taken down though.

Antony Gormley’s living sculpture One & Other must have sounded great on paper and I have to admit I was pretty excited by the theory. In reality though, despite rolling Sky TV coverage, it never really enthralled. This is Christine Sharman but I can’t now remember what she was doing.

I make no comment about whether Sir Keith Park deserved a memorial (because I genuinely don’t know) but this particular work left me singularly unmoved. It was, in the end, just a very big statue of an airman. What I noticed most were the ginormous gloves.

This is more like it. If you’re going to be on a big plinth on Trafalgar Square at least have a go at connecting with what’s going around you. Even if it is by putting Nelson’s ship in a bottle. Apparently despite paying more than a quarter of a million to commission it the public didn’t own Yinka Shonibare’s work – and so another publicly funded body had to step in and buy the rest. For another £250k. It’s things like that that cause outrage, you know.

And now we have this. It’s called Powerless Structures rather than huge boy on a toy and is by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. For such a giant piece it seems remarkably easy to ignore – when I was there I appeared to be the only person looking at it. Joanna Lumley when she unveiled it called it “completely unthreatening”. Maybe that’s the problem.


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