Sunday, July 12, 2009


picture from here

Plinth is such a good word.

Trafalgar Square in London has 4 plinthes, one at each corner. Or is that plinths? And can I be bothered to check?

3 of the plinths (I didn't check, its just my instinct) are occupied by 2 generals and a monarch, but the 4th has always been empty and has been the subject of much discussion over the past 10 years or more.

Since about the turn of the century the plinth has been used as a temporary exhibition space.

I really liked Mark Wallinger's statue of Christ "Ecce homo", though I don't know if it would have such impact in a different context. Well, different context different impact maybe. But in Trafalgar Square I thought it was impressive. It was such a small statue (life-sized) in relation to the hugeness of the Square with Nelson's unfeasible column towering above, and the immense lions and military figures. And it was so quiet and still amidst the hustle and busyness of London. Its silent and understated presence effortlessly threw into question the oversized celebration of British power and militarism.
It was impressive almost through being un-impressive.

I also really liked Marc Quinn's statue of Alison Lapper - beautiful, maternal and also disabled like - but also very unlike - Nelson. Another statue which worked so well in this particular context.

So....the current project on the 4th plinth was dreamed up by the wonderful Anthony Gormley, possibly most well known for his Angel of the North.

For 100 days members of the British public (or anyone living in the UK) can apply for the opportunity to spend an hour on the plinth. Doing whatever they like. Anything within the limits of what is lawful. A living portrait of the UK.

You can watch what is going on - Look here. As I write this, there is a woman sat there who appears to be setting up a teddy bear's picnic. She's reading a book to them.

There have been people singing or playing music. People sitting reading a book, or blowing bubbles. One man sat and made and dispatched dozens of paper airplanes. Another took a canvas and spent the hour painting his view.

And so it was that last night, on my way to meet a friend for an evening at the theatre, I saw a womble being delivered up onto the plinth for his hour of glory.

Click here for more info. on the Wombles of Wimbledon common.

And keep watching this blog...... my name has gone into the draw to get a place on the plinth in September or October. Its about a one in ten chance.

I used to be shy and retiring. I sometimes hardly know myself these days.


R.L. Bourges said...

This post is wonderful from start to finish, Lettuce.
(The dictionary confirms your instinct about the plural of plingh, by the way.)

The Mark Wallinger: the disproportion in scale certainly has something to do with it, but the piece is interesting in itself. (In the vid, I found the moment when the statue is taken away at 2:25 particularly moving.)

Marc Quinn's Alison Lapper must have been particularly arresting in that environment. I love what the artist has to say about it.

Gormley's Angel of the North is a discovery for me. Beautiful; again the disproportion in the scale between the statue and its environment is arresting.

I must check out the Wombles. Really, an uncle Bulgaria,Orinoco, madame Cholet and Tomsk? How can I resist?

I'd love to be in London when you do your turn on the plinth (oh yes, you will!)

No longer shy and retiring? Good for you.

Thanks for this ramble. Brings back to mind some of your visits to the Tate and other favorites of mine in your posts.

best from Graulhet.

Akelamalu said...

Oh Wow Lettie, what you gonna do in your hour if you get a place?

ArtSparker said...

Oh, when you said there was an empty plinth, something along these lines occurred to me before I read the rest of the post. What a beautiful idea! I wish this could be a recurring thing, say for three months of the year. I would love to see what you would do.

Barbara said...

Plinth must be British thing because I never heard the word in this country. I would love to see what you would do with that space so I hope you win the lottery!

Dot-Com said...

Thought for a second it was a smurph in one of the pics. Almost think it should have been :-)

herhimnbryn said...

Thankyou lettuce lady. Made me smile on this cold morning. I am really hoping ou will get up there. What will you do?

Megan said...

How unbelievably cool.

I do hope you get the chance.

Dizzy said...

Wow, but what will you do up there, who will you dress as??? Hope you get it Letty.

I really like the idea, the paper planes was a good one, and the womble. I will have a look on youtube.


lettuce said...

thanks rlb, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm trying to regain some old blogging habits.... and I'm sure you would also enjoy the wombles.

and to the rest of you who've asked.... I'd probably spin or knit. spinning if I could get my wheel up there. With fluorescent speed-stripes if it was after dark. And throw made4aid flyers at people.... (obsessed? moi?)

Barbara, i'm sure you have plinths in the USA. I wonder what you call them...?

Dot-com you made me smile. yes a smurf would have been excellent

tut-tut said...

I hope you insert some offensive content. Or leastways provocative. Hmmm. A very interesting concept, isn't it. Won't it be great to be picked, Lettuce!!

shy and retiring, eh? Still am, here, mostly. Sorry I haven't been around the blogs. My giant project ends tomorrow.

giulia said...

'Plinth' is a fabulous word. Thank you for an addition to my word-list. I hadn't thought of it in ages. And have no energy to be as entertaining as you or the commentariat.

Shall be back soon.

Reya Mellicker said...

LOVE the word plinth. I've been reading about this piece ... the activist who jumped up there just before the official opening. Everyone seemed quite calm about it all.

Oh. Just saw that you've written about ghosts. That topic is everywhere in the blog world right now. Must go and read.


Shammickite said...

Oh Yeah Letty! I hope, hope, hope you get to go on the plinth! I think this is a fab idea, I have sent the weblink to all my cousins and friends and blogpals, I love it. I sust witnessed the changeove from a lady in a flowery dress to a man who is now sitting in a folding chair.... he's just sitting and enjoying the whole thing! You can bet I'll be checking the website quite often.

subtorp77 said...

lettuce hadn't known about this. Will keep watching this space and good luck on the draw!

The Clever Pup said...

I thought that was a womble. I remember them from 1975 when I spent the summer in Kent.

Hey, I'd like to put up the Made 4 aid link on my blog. Can I just copy and paste the links myself?

natural attrill said...

heeheehee- wombles. :0


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