Posted on March 15, 2024

Black ‘Everywoman’ Statue to Appear on Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth

Craig Simpson, The Telegraph, March 15, 2024

Sadiq Khan has approved plans to install a statue of a black “everywoman” on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth as an apparent symbol of “equity” in the capital.

Lady in Blue, a painted bronze statue by New York artist Tschabalala Self, was on Friday confirmed as the latest sculpture to be installed on the plinth, with an unveiling expected in 2026.

Described as a “young, metropolitan woman of colour who could be just one of many Londoners today”, the statue depicts a black woman wearing a blue dress and high heels midway through a confident stride.

Commissioners said Lady in Blue was a “symbol of our shared present and future ambitions – the aspiration of equity through representation, recognition and action. A world where all global citizens are appreciated for their unique contributions”.

It is also intended to “bring a contemporary ‘everywoman’ to Trafalgar Square”, and Ms Self said she hoped the police would represent “a woman that many can relate to”.

The commission was one of several submitted to the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, which puts its recommended winners to the Mayor of London for approval.

The fourth plinth was set up in 1999 with help from Dame Joanna Lumley to find use for a pedestal left empty after 19th-century plans for a statue of King William IV were scrapped.

The empty pedestal displays a rotating series of artworks chosen by an independent commissioning group and signed off by the Mayor.

After Lady in Blue has had two years on the plinth, it will be replaced by artwork produced by Romanian-born sculptor Andra Ursuța.

The artwork, called Untitled, depicts a figure on horseback cloaked in an “excretion” of “green slime”.

In September, the casts of 850 trans people, some of whom are sex workers, will feature on top of the plinth as Improntas (Imprints), by Mexican artist Teresa Margolles, starts its own run.

It will replace Samson Kambalu’s Antelope, which depicts a statue of John Chilembwe, a black pastor who tried to lead an uprising in colonial Nyasaland and who had a white estate manager beheaded.

The political themes of the statues placed on the fourth plinth have led to accusations that the scheme, under the control of the mayor’s culture team, is “woke”.

There have been calls for a permanent statue to be erected on the plinth, including one celebrating the late Queen Elizabeth II, but the scheme is set to continue.

Justine Simons, deputy mayor for culture and creative Industries, said: “I’m delighted that Tschabalala Self and Andra Ursuţa have been selected as the next artists to display their work on the world-renowned Fourth Plinth.

“These artists were chosen from a fantastic shortlist that has inspired debate among Londoners.

“The sculpture prize has entertained and brought out the art critic in everybody for 25 years, and I have no doubt these two very different pieces will continue that fine tradition.”