Battle Of The Plinth

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 121 months ago
Battle Of The Plinth

Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth is going to play host to a very traditional piece of art after Antony Gormley's One and Other. Westminster Council last night gave permission for a statue of Battle of Britain commander Sir Keith Park to occupy the plinth for six months, in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of the time when so many owed so much to so few.

There's been a frenetic campaign to get a statue of the New Zealander into the Square, backed by Boris Johnson and churner-outer-of-dodgy-thrillers Frederick Forsyth. There's no doubt that Sir Keith Park played a pivotal role in the war but - and here's the bit that has us head-scratching - once the six month slot on the plinth is over, there's already a permanent home awaiting a smaller version in Waterloo Gardens.

Westminster came very close to rejecting planning permission, saying the new statue would be out of keeping with the plinth's purpose of being a showcase for contemporary art, but it looks like they bowed to pressure. We feel a little disappointed; the plinth has been a fantastic showcase for bold, interesting art for a decade and this statue - while celebrating a very worthwhile subject - will look a bit dull after the showmanship of One and Other. There are plenty of places for commemorative sculpture across London and not many public spots for new, edgy artworks. The fourth plinth isn't there to be 'borrowed' every time a special anniversary comes up. Ho hum.

Last Updated 08 May 2009