The Fourth Plinth

A short list of six sculptures for the north west plinth in Trafalgar Square London has been drawn up, six months before one is chosen for display in 2015. Two of them originate from nature, Marcus Coates’ Unmade Monument, and Hans Haacke’s Gift Horse.

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At first sight Coates’ Millstone Grit looks like the weathered rock of Yorkshire. It sets out part of Brimham Rocks, weathered by the wind and a symbol of the determined English spirit for which Lord Nelson was well-known. But the plan is for a plastic replica of the real thing  with the patterns of sediment painted on. Mr Coates has been quoted (The Guardian 25th September) to say “What excited me was to do something that celebrated the absence of the human.”

The schist stone-wall below is severely eroded by wind, without human moulding or painting. It is not in Yorkshire but in Greece. It is real.

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Mr Haacke’s horse skeleton is a good replica of the real thing. The big differences are the material and the sculpture’s additional ticker tape of stock market prices stuck between its front legs.


The quality of this art is in danger of letting down the quality of the science – already high as expressed in the Jurassic Portland Stone of the surrounding buildings and the grace of the horse …..let alone in the quality of Lord Nelson’s navigation skills at Trafalgar.

2 comments on “The Fourth Plinth

  1. @vistaprojects says:

    In what way do they originate from nature? Both proposals ‘originate’ from the artists and the nature of the artistic opportunity they are engaged in competing for. You have to recognize that to make a relevant comment.

    • The fact that these sculptures represent something real, something that you can see in nature, surely means that their makers are playing with kitsch. It’s not clear what has originated from the artists, apart from the process of replication and the ticker tape.

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