Antony Gormley’s One and Other proposal for Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth will see 2400 of us simple folk having an hour atop the empty plinth over 100 days. According to the artist it will be “a portrait of Britain made out of 2,400 hours of 2,400 people’s lives.”
So far 10,000 Brits have applied to showcase themselves in the name of modern art. I was one of those 10,000 Brits and yesterday morning I got to put my ideas of becoming a human sculpture into practice. Sixteen of us applicants were hunted down across the internet for a ‘bring your own plinth’ gathering to promote Gormley’s idea (and perhaps to push for the planning permission they still don’t have?). Armed with my knitting needles and my bee-shaped headphones I became a human sculpture for a morning.
Amongst my favourites were Bridget, a storyteller in her stockinged feet who waved her 60-year-old ball of yarn (“I’ll try not to steal your knitting thunder” she told me, with a conspiratorial smile) and her words across the gaggle of press and confused tourists below her; Lucy, actor and member of Northstar, the UK’s first all-girl boy band, who read us 90s celebrity gossip from her copy of Smash Hits (Shannon Doherty was such a scandal); Fiona, from New Esperance, London’s women’s morris dancing club, who had so much bubbling enthusiasm her tinkling knee bells accompanied every camera flash, and Tom, who posed in his pants and socks (in honour of Caravaggio’s David & Goliath donchaknow) and responded surprisingly calmly to the wearingly constant cries of “Pants man! Pants man!” from the snapping press.
Standing in front of 50 camera lenses with the tinkling of knee bells and the rise and fall of Jamaican poetry in my ears I couldn’t help but feel rather proud to be eccentrically British. It was a bit like Britain’s got Talent with an arty hat on.
The main question we all got from every newshound was the obvious ‘Why?’. In my case it’s more of a why not. I plan to start a scarf if I get up there and see if I can knit to the floor of the Square in my hour (the height of the average British house). Gormley had applied to be on the Plinth himself along with the rest of us. I doubt he’ll be up there in his pants and socks, but you never know.
As Gormley says of his plan “It’s about people coming together to do something extraordinary and unpredictable.” Watching a man in nothing but a pair of purple pants shiver as he chatted amiably with a man dressed unashamedly as Where’s Wally I had to agree, that is certainly what he is going to get.
By Deadly Knitshade AKA Lauren O’Farrell.
Photography by Tom Lee. Thanks to Linda Laidlaw and Tina Bragaglia for helping knit the plinth.