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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 11:35 GMT
Artists battle for Trafalgar Square
This One's For The Pigeons by Sarah Lucas
One of the ideas is a car covered in pigeon mess
Six pieces of contemporary art are battling to be displayed on the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square.

Working models of the structures are being exhibited at the National Gallery from Thursday until the end of January.

The Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group will take comments from the public before selecting one piece in spring.

It will be displayed for up to 18 months as the first piece of art in a new rolling programme for the platform in the north-west corner of the square.

Equestrian statues of British Empire heroes occupy the three other corners of London's most famous square - two of 19th Century generals and one of King George IV.

The artwork on the fourth plinth will be an exciting addition to the redeveloped Trafalgar Square, further establishing it as the vibrant home of the best in British and international art
Charles Saumarez Smith, director of the National Gallery

But the fourth has stood empty since King William IV died in 1837, without leaving enough funds to have his own statue erected.

Three years ago an independent review group chaired by the author Sir John Mortimer decided the plinth should be used for an ever-changing display of artworks.

London mayor Ken Livingstone then created the Fourth Plinth Project to develop the empty pedestal.

The six artists - Chris Burden, Sokari Douglas Camp, Stefan Gec, Sarah Lucas, Thomas Schütte and Marc Quinn - were selected in July.

Dedicated website

Their work including a car covered with bird droppings, a statue of a handicapped, pregnant woman, a sculpture of anti-war demonstrators and a pigeon hotel, will be shown in the Sainsbury Wing foyer of the National Gallery.

There will be terminals where visitors can view information about the nominated artists, their previous work and explore the ideas behind their proposals.

The public will also be able to give their views via a dedicated website.

"The artwork on the fourth plinth will be an exciting addition to the redeveloped Trafalgar Square, further establishing it as the vibrant home of the best in British and international art," said Charles Saumarez Smith, director of the National Gallery.

During January, the London mayor's Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group will launch a series of talks and debates to involve the public in the selection of the artwork.

Read a selection of your comments below.


Loved the statue of Alison Lapper. Someone sitting down like that makes a nice contrast all the statues standing nobly, or plonked uncomfortably astride gee gees. Also liked the war protesters.
William, Brighton, UK

The 'No War' is the only choice for me as Trafalgar Sq is a nostalgic area for me. I have attended many demos that have ended in the Square since the 1970s, and was one of the People's March for Jobs' Marcher in 1981 that had the privilege of sitting on the fountain looking at all our supporters arrive in the Square. I was at the Stop the War demo just over two weeks ago. This artist's vision 'No War' would be a wonderful fitting tribute of the use of the Square over the last Century and into this one, of the right to air other points of views.
Karen Sambrook, London

Trafalgar Square has a great heart-of-the-empire feel, and all the short listed pieces clash terribly with that. They are also rubbish. I think a statue of Gandhi would fit perfectly there. He is not only a great historical figure but also the perfect symbol for the end of the empire.
Dan Ghica, Oxford, UK

The only clear winner of these six soulless monstrosities is the anti-war protestors, as it is the only one with any real long-lasting significance with the time and the place. My only regret is that even this particular piece lacks any real imagination. Perhaps we should leave the plinth bare to commemorate the death of creativity?
Stuart, Worcester Park, Surrey

This is hugely disappointing. They are - with the possible exception of Mark Quinn's sculpture - contrived, deliberately jarring, and unappealing.
Dan, London, UK

The Thomas Schutte sculpture is amazing
David, Surrey
Five out of the six pieces are fantastic. I love the range of ideas here. Not crazy about the car - but to each their own. The Thomas Schutte sculpture is amazing. I saw it today at the National Gallery - and I think it is beautiful. It will have the power to transform the Square. The light and colour in the work is truly inspiring. A great programme. Can't wait to see what goes up.
David, Surrey

None of the short list fit with the theme of the square. Trafalgar Square is about celebrating great public figures of the nation. Leave this stuff in the Tate Modern and lets get a statue of someone who has really made a difference to our country.
Robin CB, England

I think I'd rather have a statue so it would match the others. But of the choice, I'd like the anti-war protestor one please, not because I necessarily support this ideal but because it would balance out the military theme of Trafalgar Square by reflecting the views of protestors and aesthetically, I think it matches the other statues the best.
Lucy, London

Having been in Trafalgar Square on Monday I would suggest that a large replica of the William Web Ellis Cup is displayed on the Fourth Plinth, to remind us all of the England Rugby Team's fantastic achievement!
Jane Newbould, Abingdon, England

A total waste of money. I just hope that hard earned money paid by the tax payer has not been spent on rubbish in the showplace of London. Where do these art experts come from? I suspect they are all receiving grants paid for as usual by Lottery funds and taxes. I vote for statue of Florence Nightingale or a hard working NHS nurse.
John Dracott, Tiburon, California

None would make me feel proud of being British
Emma Foster, Calgary, Canada
Trafalgar Square is such a popular, public and internationally renowned place that I honestly do not think any of these sculptures should be on display. Any one of them would be a terrible juxtaposition. None would make me feel proud of being British.
Emma Foster, Calgary, Canada

I applaud the idea of rolling art. But for heaven's sake, can we not find something better than sensationalist Turner rejects? If Ken Livingstone really wants to re-engineer this area as a focus for tourists, please can he try not to humiliate us with this rubbish.
Adrian, England

I agree with Adrian, tourists save up to bring their families to Britain, especially London, and all of them go to Trafalgar square. Why display quirky and questionable old rubbish as valued by British society today, just for shock value? Trafalgar Square should remain beautiful and dignified. Why not Florence Nightingale?
Judy, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

I like Marc Quinn's statue of Alison Lapper. I saw it at Tate Liverpool a couple of years ago and it's very impressive. It would get my vote, although as the plinth is high, I'm not sure it would be the best place for it because the viewer would not see her legs. The other strong contender is Sokari Douglas Camp's demonstrators, which is a really successful way of depicting what happens in Trafalgar Square and the way our democracy has been revived recently.
Andrea, London

These items are all totally inappropriate for that space
John Cahill, London, UK
I enjoy modern art in the right context but these items are all totally inappropriate for that space. Surely there is a British sculptor with some imagination who will rise above the cheap soap-box politics and sneering anti-art movement that has become the norm.
John Cahill, London, UK

Out of the six, the war protesters has to be the best. It also reflects the struggles seen in the square against the South African apartheid regime nearby On that theme, wouldn't one of Nelson Mandela be far more suitable?
Laurence, London

After looking at the six pictures, the one of the protestors definitely has the edge over the others which really don't capture the spirit of the square. I don't want to be reminded about the Twin Towers in London, its definitely time to move on instead of dwelling on the past. Why are we honouring the pigeons so much, with two pieces of art in their honour? I'm sure with the recent greatest Britons survey by the BBC, we could find someone more worthy!
Caroline Hewitt, Durham, England

This is no choice
Jack Kincaid, London
The usual rubbish. An unelected elite chooses six worthless pieces and foists them on the people of London, offering them a bogus 'choice'. This is no choice - each statue is the same: artistically worthless and politically pseudo-leftwing, middle class rubbish. What we want is a statue, like the others, of a man or woman with some relationship with London and with the British military. It could be a general, or it could be Florence Nightingale or William Wilberforce.
Jack Kincaid, London

Please could we have something aesthetic or something which speaks to the man in the street in a language he can understand or which at lest tries to inspire. The options seem to be a case of "the emperor's new clothes" England has more to offer than pigeons, conflict, mechano buildings and efforts to be politically correct. Let's have something positive and perhaps beautiful.
Jill , Reading Berks

The Protest has to be the winner. It says much about today's society and about our freedom to protest and make our voices heard, if not listened to.
Maddy Hughes, Bristol, UK

Why build a temporary sculpture? It will be the same as the millennium dome, a complete disaster as far as value for money is concerned. The modern rubbish put up for the competition is not what the normal citizen wants. Why not have a proper statue of a great statesman. Why not Nelson Mandela? He is an international figure and named Nelson as well.
Bob Slater, Stockport. Cheshire

The anti-war protester statue is a brilliant idea, it gives a permanent reminder of the people who have come to the centre of London to voice their opposition to successive governments decisions, over many years. I feel this is not just about the most recent war, but perhaps every war. We have many statues celebrating the lives of those who have contributed and fought in wars, some honourably, some not so, is it not time we recognise the valuable contribution the voice of opposition and protest brings to our democracy?
Jan Leslie, Croydon, England

The no war sculpture definitely has to be the one. People look to sculptures like these for inspiration or beauty so the pigeon ideas are just a joke while the missiles clearly inflammatory. The pregnant woman comes a close second for the idea of innocence coming from society's 'general' view of imperfection, but the demonstrators gives more balance to Trafalgar Square and will hopefully remind MP's down the road to remember the quest for peace is just up the road.
Mike Waite, Royston, UK

Trafalgar Square is a traditional place of protest, and this would mark that
Michelle, England
I like the one of the statues of protestors. When I first saw it, I was reminded of the statue of the Americans raising the flag. I think it's a reminder that not all heroes are soldiers, without denigrating those others in the square who are. Plus, as the artist said, Trafalgar Square is a traditional place of protest, and this would mark that. However, it's also a traditional place to party, so maybe a few new year's revellers could be added!
Michelle, England

I've just seen the six pictures of art which could be used for the 4th plinth and I think they are a load of rubbish. Please don't use these. How about commemorating our great Queen Elizabeth II to say a big thank you from her loyal subjects for all she has sacrificed for all these years.
Anna Artlett, London, England

Given that two-dimensional photographs do not convey the true impact of three-dimensional objects, my immediate reaction to the six works is to note the complete lack of beauty. They appear to be so pedestrian in their ordinariness that it is painful to think of them in magnificent London.
Lois Williams Baglin, Melbourne, Australia

You're kidding! A car covered in bird droppings? A pigeon hotel? This isn't art, this is laziness! Who actually enjoys this so-say art anyway? Not exactly something I'd like to look at when eating my sandwiches at lunchtime! I seriously hope my taxes aren't paying for this!
Joe, London

What a load of rubbish, let's hope that no public money has or will be wasted on these so called artists. There are many figures in British history who should be honoured and remembered.
Oliver, Reading, Berkshire




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Rosie Millard
"The final decision will take place next March"



SEE ALSO:
In Pictures: Art for Trafalgar Square
11 Dec 03  |  Photo Gallery
Artists named for fourth plinth
25 Jul 03  |  London
Trafalgar Square reopens
02 Jul 03  |  London
Experts 'dismiss' Mandela statue
07 May 03  |  London
Square gets stairs after 160 years
31 Oct 02  |  England
Trafalgar plinth to showcase art
12 May 00  |  UK News


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