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The Fourth Plinth

  • Date: 9 November 2009
  • Artform: None
  • Area: London

Between 1841 and 1999, the Fourth Plinth in the north west corner of Trafalgar Square remained empty. Now, however, it is used to display a series of temporary works of art commissioned from leading national and international artists.

The programme is part of the vision for Trafalgar Square to be a vibrant, public space, and to encourage debate about the place and value of public art in the built environment.

The Fourth Plinth project is funded by the Mayor of London and Arts Council England. It was initiated in 1998 by the Royal Society of Arts with the support of the Cass Sculpture Foundation. In 1999 responsibility for Trafalgar Square was transferred to the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority. The scheme is led by the cultural strategy team, within the Mayor of London's office, under the guidance of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group (FPCG), which recommends contemporary works to be placed on the plinth.

The first new commission for the Fourth Plinth under the auspices of the FPCG was Marc Quinn's sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant, unveiled in September 2005. It was replaced in November 2007 by Thomas Schütte's Model for a Hotel. Previous commissions have been Ecce Homo by Mark Wallinger (1999), Regardless of History by Bill Woodrow (2000) and Monument by Rachel Whiteread (2001).

From 6 July 2009, the plinth showcased Antony Gormley's One & Other, in which every hour of every day, for 100 days without a break, different people from all over the UK made the plinth their own. The 2,400 participants were chosen at random from the many thousands that applied.