Battle of Trafalgar: Contemporary artists submit proposals for Fourth Plinth

Gyrating cones and horse skeleton among shortlisted works

A former Turner Prize winner is to go head to head with this year’s favourite to create the latest work to be displayed on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square.

The Fourth Plinth Commissions have attracted submissions from some of the most established British and international artists, and the plinth is currently occupied by a giant blue cockerel.

The six shortlisted sculptures for the next two commissions were unveiled in central London today and include gyrating cones, a giant aluminium mask and the replica of a Yorkshire rock formation.

Mark Leckey, who won the Turner Prize in 2008, is among the artists competing, as is David Shrigley, who is the bookies' favourite to win the contemporary art prize this year. Turner Prize winners to display work on the Fourth Plinth in the past include Mark Wallinger and Rachel Whiteread.

Click here for images of Fourth Plinth contenders

Ekow Eshun, the chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, said: "You try and find some of the most important artists working in Britain and internationally for the plinth. The fact we have had Turner Prize winners involved is a reflection of that."

Shrigley’s proposed work for the Fourth Plinth is titled Really Good and is the bronze cast of a huge hand doing a thumbs-up, in the trademark style of an artist known for his humour.

It is designed to make Trafalgar Square, the UK and the world "a better place. And it would be quite a cost-effective way of doing it," the artist said, adding it would be a "really big deal" to display his work in such a notable space.

"The meaning is quite oblique. I don’t want my work to be super readable, but it is a satire on the politics of civic sculpture," he said.

The artist, who was born in Macclesfield and lives in Glasgow, added that the sculpture, with its thumb stretching 10-foot high, "will become a self-fulfilling prophecy; that things considered bad, such as the economy, the weather and society, will benefit from a change of consensus towards positivity".

Mr Eshun said: "David Shrigley is having a very good year, but it's not like he has come out of nowhere. A successful artist can make any complex idea look simple and that’s what he does. He makes a complex idea simple and amusing."

The artist himself could not put his finger on why everything has come together for him in the past 12 months.

"I'm now 45," he said. "Maybe that’s the age of maturity for an artist. You accept all these things and try and enjoy them."

Leckey's work, called Larger Squat Afar, is an amalgam of elements found in other statues in the space, and the name itself is an anagram of Trafalgar Square.

British artist Marcus Coates presented a work replicating a stone outcrop in Yorkshire, Germany’s Hans Haacke is a skeleton of a horse with a ribbon on its leg showing the live ticker from the London Stock Exchange while Ugo Rondinone from Switzerland’s work is a huge "moon" mask in aluminium.

A model of 'Gift Horse' by Hans Haacke A model of 'Gift Horse' by Hans Haacke Liliane Lijn, an American working in London, has created The Dance, kinetic cone sculptures that would be the first moving pieces to make the plinth should her proposal be successful. Ms Lijn said: "After 50 years of kinetic sculpture it was about time we had something moving on the plinth."

Mr Eshun said: "This reflects the continuing ambitions for the Fourth Plinth. We feel we have established one of the most significant international public art commissions in the world.

"All the artists here have responded in different and unique ways and the singular depth from their careers. We’re very proud of the work here."

The public will now be able to respond to the work and the submissions will be taken into account by the Commission Group. On the last consultation there were about 17,000 responses from the public. The first sculpture will go up in 2015 and the second 18 months later.

Mr Eshun said: "These six artists responded with real depth, imagination and insight. It is a very difficult commission. It is a public space, a busy space, and now it has a history of previous commissions. So each artist has to respond to the past and look to the future."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport