Public art in Trafalgar Square
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Award-winning sculptor Antony Gormley's concept "One And Other" was chosen as one of the next works for the landmark square, using up to 2,400 volunteers to occupy the "empty" fourth plinth around-the-clock for 100 consecutive days.
Public art will soon take on a literal meaning after London Mayor Boris Johnson on Monday announced an unusual new commission for the city's Trafalgar Square.
Award-winning sculptor Antony Gormley's concept "One And Other" was chosen as one of the next works for the landmark square, using up to 2,400 volunteers to occupy the "empty" fourth plinth around the clock for 100 consecutive days.
Johnson chose the proposal and a second by Yinka Shonibare that pays homage to Britain's most famous naval commander, Admiral Horatio Nelson, whose statue gazes down from the towering column which is the square's historic centrepiece.
"It was obviously a tough decision," the mayor said after announcing the winners from a six-strong shortlist. "All of the short-listed proposals had their own merits.
"But I am very excited about the prospect of real people standing on the plinth in one of the great public squares of the world."
The sculptures will be shown from spring 2009, but which will go on display first has not yet been decided, a spokeswoman for the mayor's office told AFP.
Shonibare, who was born in London but raised in Nigeria, will put a replica of Nelson's flagship Victory in a giant glass bottle atop the plinth, with sails made from textiles bought from a street market in Brixton, south London.
"For me it's a celebration of London's immense ethnic wealth, giving expression to and honouring the many cultures and ethnicities that are still breathing precious wind into the sails of the UK," he said.
Gormley said that putting people on a plinth made the human body a "metaphor, a symbol and allows us to reflect on the diversity, vulnerability and particularity of the individual in the contemporary society".
On Monday, Britain's tallest piece of free-standing artwork was unveiled on the site of the former Raleigh bicycle factory in Nottingham, east central England.
At 196 feet (60 metres), the "Aspire" tower, which resembles an ice-cream cornet without the ice cream, is three times as tall as Gormley's most famous work, the giant Angel of the North statue in northeast England.
The fourth plinth in the northwest of Trafalgar Square was built in 1841 and intended for an equestrian statue but was left empty for lack of funds. A public art scheme has seen it occupied by different works since 1999.
One of the most famous sculptures was Marc Quinn's marble depiction of artist Alison Lapper, who was born without arms and shortened legs, who posed for him while heavily pregnant.
It is currently occupied by Thomas Schuette's "Model for a Hotel 2007", an architectural model for a 21-storey building made in red, yellow and blue glass and weighing more than eight tonnes.
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