At Tate Britain
Over the years the empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square became a focus for attitudes to monuments and monumentality. There was no agreement about which person, victory or event should be celebrated, and little confidence that any modern sculptor could manage the sorrow, patriotism, nobility, admiration, pride and so on that would once have seemed appropriate. There were those who lobbied for statues of Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park or Nelson Mandela, but it was in the end decided that the answer was a cycle of temporary pieces. That is now in progress. (The statue of Mandela ended up in Parliament Square, and a few weeks ago a bronze statue of Sir Keith by Leslie Johnson – a bigger fibreglass version of it did have some time on the plinth – was unveiled in Waterloo Place. Park looks across the space in front of Decimus Burton’s Athenaeum, under the nose of Edward VII’s horse, towards Captain Scott. Here, at the head of the steps leading down to the Mall, chaps in bronze, holding their ground among the stucco and the trees, can forget the teeming, agitated crowds which offend their fellows in Trafalgar Square.)
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