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Anthony Gormley, sculptor
"It has to express contemporary life within the environment we share"
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Friday, 12 May, 2000, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Trafalgar plinth to showcase art
Statue of Christ
Statue of Christ temporarily filled the empty space
The vacant plinth in Trafalgar Square is to become a showcase for contemporary art.

The panel set up to decide its future rejected a range of historical tributes and outlandish ideas, saying the site will become an ever-changing display of artworks of our period.

Author Sir John Mortimer, who chaired the body, said it had decided to celebrate the present and not the past.

David Beckham
A statue of Beckham was a suggestion

"It offers a period of great excitement and a celebration of our artistic revival and the vitality and vivacity of this moment, as opposed to the great moments of the past," he said.

The famous square in central London is home to Nelson's Column and was built during the 1840s.

Its three other corners boast Empire-scale equestrian statues - two of 19th Century imperial generals and one of King George IV.

But the fourth has stood empty since King William IV died without leaving enough funds to have his own statue erected, and no one else stepped in.

Celebrate the moment

Members of the public were invited by the panel to make suggestions and those put forward included David Beckham, Winnie the Pooh and a stiletto shoe.

The plinth has recently been occupied by temporary exhibits including Mark Wallinger's Ecce Homo and the current Regardless Of History by Bill Woodrow.

Rachel Whiteread will have her work Plinth installed from the autumn until spring, an upturned cast of the plinth itself.

Sir John Mortimer: celebrate the moment
Sir John Mortimer: celebrate the moment

It will be in the hands of newly-elected London mayor Ken Livingstone to give the final go-ahead for the independent review group's decision.

One further suggestion the panel is keen to push forward is a monument to slavery for the year 2007, marking the 200th anniversary of the bill to abolish the practice in this country.

Sir John said: "We believe this will be a most fitting scene for the sculpture in that year, an idea put to us most eloquently by the late Bernie Grant MP and Baroness Ros Howells."

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