The fourth plinth waiting game


Will Trafalgar Square ever see a permanent resident to it’s vacant fourth plinth? I say vacant, it’s currently supporting a model that the pigeons have adopted as a dance club! Later in 2009, Anthony Gormley will be asking 2,400 people to stand on the plinth, 100 per hour (you can apply here). Following him will be “Victory in a Bottle" by Yinka Shonibare, which is exactly what it says on the tin. But perhaps the time has come to move away from the concept of placing modern art on there, it’s become somewhat staid. Modern art is supposed to push the envelope and it’s proven that.

However, the plinth is there for a statue to be placed on it, completing the square if you will, and recently there have been two very good proposals. The first, which is currently in the planning application stages would see RAF hero, Sir Keith Park overlooking the square. It would be in keeping with the military theme and would bring the area up-to-date by rightly immortalizing a Second World War flyer. The second is nothing more than a rumour that circulated in the press late last year, but one that is in fact a very noble idea: a statue of the Queen on horseback. The one drawback is that it would be unveiled after her passing (which could be a long way hence). Perhaps we shouldn’t wait. Why not set the goal of having it erected by 2012, 60 years after her ascension to the throne and also in the Olympic year?

What needs to be undertaken is a drive to erect something permanent there to stop us from enduring the rather public death of modern art. Modern art need not be constricted to one site in the corner of a square, it should be interspersed throughout the city so that it becomes a daily interaction that enlivens us. Rather than a drab reminder of where pigeons go to party.