Tuesday 18 March 2008

The Fourth Plinth

Whilst wondering about St Patrick's Day yesterday I had occasion to visit the Mayor of London's website. Whilst I was there I noticed a section on the fourth plinth. I had to go and have a look, as the whole topic of the fourth plinth is another subject on which I have a bee in my bonnet.

The fourth plinth refers to an empty plinth in the northwest corner of Trafalgar Square. There are four plinths, one at each corner - the other three have statues of George IV (northeast), Henry Havelock (southeast) and Sir Charles James Napier (southwest). With the exception of George IV most people probably have no idea who or what these statues commemorate. Havelock and Napier were officers in the British Army both particularly renowned for campaigns in India. People might not know who Napier and Havelock are, but there was still a huge furore a few years back when Mayor Ken suggest that they be replaced with 'more relevant' figures. I digress. The fourth plinth has, for some years now, been the recipient of various 'temporary' displays of artwork. I use that term loosely. I'm not a fan of 'modern' art. Not generally. I feel that art should inspire. I also feel that art shouldn't be something that anyone could technically throw together. I am not a fan, therefore of most of the next set of proposals for the plinth (although at least the giant pregnant woman is gone).

You can see the shortlist on the Mayor of London's website. I would vote for the one by Shonibare as it is the only one which I think shows any merit as artwork, or any awareness of the historical context of it's location.

The transformation of Trafalgar Square under the World Squares for All project (don't be fooled, this isn't global or even national, but actually just specifically Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square and Whitehall) was much needed and long overdue. Let's hope that one day the Fourth Plinth will have a monument which is appropriate for this historical location.