The new fourth plinth artwork at Trafalgar Square

Readers with a long memory might remember a post I wrote in 2018 The Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth about a rather interesting temporary art installation what is said to be the most viewed public art annually in the world.

Sadly the old work of art has been replaced last week and I must say when i saw the new replacement I let out a few rude words.  That’s the thing about modern art, you either love it or hate it and I can’t help but think the new artwork is a blight on the landscape!


Described as dystopian, The End, by British artist Heather Phillipson, will stay in place until spring 2022.

Ms Phillipson said she took into account both the political and physical aspects of Trafalgar Square and the plinth before beginning her work.

Her sculpture is the tallest so far at nearly 31ft (9.4m) and is meant to reflect the landmark as a site of celebration and protest, that is shared with other forms of life.

The artist said she felt “mixed emotions” about the unveiling on Thursday, but was also “thrilled”.

“Obviously it’s a strange time to be doing anything right now. But it also felt like it was never going to be the right time so maybe it was the right time to just let it happen,” Ms Phillipson said.

“I came up with the idea in 2016 which was already, for me, quite a tricky political moment”, she said, because of the “Brexit (vote) and the rumblings of Trump’s imminent election” in the US.

“This feels like a continuation of that – the idea of something being on the verge of collapse. The pandemic attunes them to a slightly higher frequency.”

Ms Phillipson said the sculpture was not necessarily meant to be “pessimistic” but was also “hopeful” and signalled a “chance of radical change”.

But she added: “We are still in a state of collapse.”

Ekow Eshun, chairman of the Fourth Plinth commissioning group, said the sculpture “expresses something of the fraught times that we’re currently living through while also standing in conversation with the artistic and social history of Trafalgar Square”.

Personally I can’t help but think nearly all of the above is a loss of old Cobblers but I don’t make any pretence to being any sort of expert on modern art.

As the Coronavirus rumbles on, I must say if they have to display this art in Trafalgar Square, I’m pretty glad they’ve picked a year where I might not see too much of this eyesore and can’t wait to see the end of The End.

I think I preferred it more when it was wrapped up in a bag before its unveiling!


Maybe there is a place for artwork like this but I’m not quite sure Trafalgar Square is that place and even if London is well known for its mix of ancient and new I think there still have to be an element of good taste that fits into the surroundings and this to me doesn’t.


I think I’d me more impressed if it was a giant dogs turd…. wait a minute, I have an idea for the 2022 fourth plinth exhibit.  Art is meant to cause debate, what do you think about it?


About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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7 Responses to The new fourth plinth artwork at Trafalgar Square

  1. wdfyfe says:

    Call me a heretic but I like it. (Maybe not the title) cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmmmm .. might need to see it in real life before commenting~!

    Liked by 1 person

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