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Fourth Plinth: David Shrigley’s giant thumbs up ‘Really Good’ unveiled in London’s Trafalgar Square

The Turner Prize nominee hopes his sculpture will help ‘make the world a better place’

Jess Denham
Thursday 29 September 2016 09:29 BST
The 7m-high elongated thumbs-up is the 11th Fourth Plinth artwork in London’s Trafalgar Square
The 7m-high elongated thumbs-up is the 11th Fourth Plinth artwork in London’s Trafalgar Square (Getty)

The 11th Fourth Plinth artwork has been unveiled in London’s Trafalgar Square by mayor Sadiq Khan.

Macclesfield-born artist David Shrigley’s “Really Good” is a 7m-high elongated thumbs-up, described as the “tallest and most positive yet” and made in bronze to match the historical sculptures in the square.

Mr Shrigley, 48, was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013 and is acclaimed for his bold and opinionated drawings, animations and sculptures that explore the absurdity of 21st-century society. He currently lives and works in Brighton.

“I guess this is a work about making the world a better place or it purports to actually make the world a better place,” he said at the event on Thursday morning. “Obviously, this is a ridiculous proposition, but I think it’s a good proposition. Artworks on their own are inanimate objects so they can’t make the world a better place. It is us, so I guess we have to ask ourselves how we can do this.”

“Really Good” replaces German artist Hans Haacke’s “Gift Horse” and is the first piece of public art that Mr Khan has unveiled. “I wanted to make sure, because I’m five-foot-six, that we got the tallest artist we could, and we found him, and the tallest sculpture we could manage, and David’s managed it,” he said. “I wanted it to be really good, and it’s ‘Really Good’.”

Mr Khan went on to praise the Fourth Plinth tradition, which sees contemporary artists create sculptures to fill the empty plinth in the corner of the square. “The great thing about this is that we can all be art critics. David is looking forward to your criticism, or your compliments, or your comments,” he said.

“What this represents is so important: optimism, positivity, the best of us. Particularly post-Brexit, the three most important words I say are ‘London is open’. This sculpture shows Londoners, visitors to London, tourists, EU citizens, immigrants that London is open.”

Mr Khan counted down to the unveiling, when a black covering was unzipped to reveal the sculpture. “That’s a very large set of flies, isn’t it?” he joked.

David Shrigley with a maquette of his sculpture ‘Really Good’ (Getty) (Getty Images)

Other Fourth Plinth artworks have included giant blue cockerel “Hahn/Cock” by German artist Kathaina Fritsch (2013), “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” by Yinka Shonbiare in 2010 and “Alison Lapper Pregnant” by Marc Quinn in 2005.

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