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Time to Discover: The Fourth Plinth of Trafalgar Square

Time to Discover: The Fourth Plinth of Trafalgar Square

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The Fourth Plinth sits on a corner of Trafalgar Square, not so hidden and in plain sight – but how much do you know about it? Time to delve deeper… 

Only a foolish person would ever claim that Trafalgar Square is one of the city’s hidden gems, but although millions of people pass through the square each year, few ever take the time to get acquainted with the landmarks it contains, save for the usual triumvirate of The National Gallery, Nelson’s Column and the lions that flank it. 

Take, for example, Trafalgar Square’s four statue plinths. Three of them are kind of interesting in that “oh, here’s a sculpture of a guy from the past” kind of way, but it’s really the fourth plinth you should pay attention to. 

Fourth Plinth Trafalgar Square-2

What’s so Special about the Fourth Plinth?

The fourth plinth sits on the northwestern edge of Trafalgar Square. Originally, it was supposed to be the site of a statue of King William IV. Fittingly for a project depicting a man with his own fair share of money woes, financial troubles put the kibosh on the project.

The plinth remained empty for more than 150 years. But in 1998, a solution was found. The plinth would serve as a showpiece for a changing display of contemporary art. 

Since then, the Fourth Plinth Commission has been in charge of commissioning the fourth plinth’s artworks. Various pieces have had their time in the limelight, from a statue of the HMS Victory to an eclectic living artwork that saw more than 2,400 artists contribute.

What’s on the Fourth Plinth Now? 

Heather Phillipson’s The End

Until last year, the statue on the 4th plinth was a recreation of a 2000-year-old statue of the deity Lamassu, part of a project entitled The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist’ by Michael Rakowitz which aimed to recreate the historical treasures destroyed by ISIS in Iraq. 

It was due to change to Heather Phillipson’s The End in March – a giant ice cream installation with an ominously placed drone and fly on it, but #lockdown and #2020 got involved and delayed it until July when it finally went live. Here’s what it looks like now. So yeah, if you’ve ever wondered why there’s a drone camera on Trafalgar Square – that’s why. 

Fourth Plinth: Practical Information and Map

Address: Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5NJ

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