'Curse this yob culture'.
Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, has unleashed an extraordinary broadside against Anthony Gormley's Fourth Plinth experiment. Speaking to The Times, Mr Penny berates the idea as symptomatic of Britain's shift away from artistic and architectural appreciation. He goes on to blame the Square's demise on its part-pedestrianisation a few years back. People are now too noisy and enjoy themselves far too much:
"I hate what's happening," he says. "Levels of civil behaviour are incredibly low. As I speak, people are riding the lions and climbing up as far as they can on the reliefs of Nelson's Column."
Yeah, the yoof of today. You wouldn't have caught previous generations climbing on the lions. According to the Gallery's own web site, they were too busy holding 'gin-fuelled picnics' inside the building, or using the Square as a 'snogging shop'. So Penny's comments have something of the NIMBY about them. Trafalgar Square and its attendant gallery have always been a place where high culture and mobbish revelry have clashed. For many Londoners and visitors alike, it's what makes the place so special. Just ask Penny's less stuffy equivalent at the National Portrait Gallery who joined the ranks of the Plinthians a couple of days ago.
Image by Where The Art Is in the Londonist Flickr pool.