Page last updated at 11:49 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Giant horse to become £2m artwork

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A model of the horse was unveiled at a school in Kent

A giant white horse has been chosen as a new £2m art commission for south east England dubbed "Angel of the South".

The design, by former Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger, was selected from a three-strong shortlist as part of the Ebbsfleet Landmark Project.

His design for the public art commission will see a horse standing on all four hooves at 33 times life-size.

Once built, it will dominate the north Kent landscape, standing as high as Nelson's Column at about 164ft (50m).

There was some very tough competition and I am honoured that the horse has won
Mark Wallinger

The announcement was made at Swan Valley Community School in Swanscombe in Kent, which overlooks the Springhead Park area where the giant statue will be built.

The landmark, which will be close to Eurostar's international station, is intended as an iconic symbol representing the regeneration of north-west Kent, and the eastwards growth of London.

Mr Wallinger, who was chosen over artists Daniel Buren and Richard Deacon, described it as a "tremendously exciting project".

"There was some very tough competition and I am honoured that the horse has won through," he said.

The BBC’s David Sillito talks to artist Mark Wallinger about his giant statue

His team will be involved in an application for planning permission from Gravesham Borough Council, which is expected to take about 12 months.

The Ebbsfleet Landmark Project has been dubbed the "Angel of the South", in reference to Antony Gormley's Angel of the North sculpture which overlooks the A1 motorway in Gateshead.

A prancing white horse is the logo for the county council and has been the symbol of Kent for hundreds of years.

However, a sculpture of the Invicta, supported by Kent County Council in response to Mr Wallinger's entry, was rejected by judges last year.

Victoria Pomery, chairman of the Ebbsfleet Landmark Project's selection panel, said their decision was based on "artistic merit".

She added: "Mark is a superb artist of world renown and his sculpture will become a real landmark for Ebbsfleet and the whole region."

Last week, organisers of the project said they were still hoping it would be in place for the London 2012 Olympics, despite the recession.

The location of the planned horse sculpture
Project manager Mark Davy revealed to the BBC that there could be short-term funding problems for the Ebbsfleet scheme.

Following Tuesday's decision, he said: "The 2012 Olympics is a significant milestone but outside of our control.

"The project is such a complex one that it will be difficult to set a specific deadline until we have undertaken the significant technical studies and costing investigations."

It was commissioned by Eurostar, London & Continental Railways and Land Securities, the developers of Ebbsfleet Valley.

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