Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Fourth Plinth to St Margaret's Westminster


The “me, me, me” generation now have its own monument among the great and the good in Trafalgar Square. The empty Fourth Plinth is being used by Anthony Gormley for his ‘One & Other’ exhibition. This excellent idea has been high jacked by the legion of Big Brother devotees who are only interested in fifteen minutes of fame (make that an hour for One & Other) by standing on the plinth and ‘showing off’. Sorry but there is no other word for it. Trafalgar Square is a place where Londoners congregate for political rallies and national celebrations. The plinth now offers a freak show in the name of art.

Perhaps it’s fitting. At the south east corner of the square is Britain’s smallest Police Station located in a lamp post. It is also home to a bronze statue of Charles I, which was ordered to be destroyed by Parliament in 1649 and the metal used for armaments. Instead of melting it down, brazier John Rivett buried it in his garden. The statue was later acquired by Charles II and placed in its present position in 1675. The Royal Stuart Society place a wreath beside it on 30 January each year, the anniversary of Charles I execution.

At the base of Nelsons column are bronze reliefs. They depict scenes from famous Nelson victories and are cast from captured French cannons. I’m all in favour of a little antigallican sentiment but this seems to be “rubbing it in”.

From Trafalgar Square walk down Whitehall to the Women At War Memorial, which was designed by sculpture John Mills and opened by the Queen on 9 July 2005 . It commemorates the contribution made by seven million women during the Second World War. The £1 million, 22 foot high monument depicts uniforms and working clothes worn by women during the war.

Further down Whitehall is the Cenotaph, London’s memorial to the War dead. The Cenotaph, a word meaning empty tomb, was designed by Edwin Lutyens and built at the end of the First World War. Carved in Portland stone it is decorated with only two simple wreaths and contains no religious motifs whatsoever.

At the end of Whitehall is Parliament Square and St Margaret’s Westminster. The church is so overshadowed by it’s gothic neighbours, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, that it is almost invisible. Completed in 1523 it is the parish church of Parliament. The stain glass windows to the south of St Margaret’s where designed and replaced by John Piper in 1966 as the original windows had been destroyed by enemy action during the Second World War.
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1 comment:

  1. Oh how I wholeheartedly agree about the fourth plinth.

    I deviated from my planned route to a meeting a few weeks ago to make sure I caught sight of this while I had the chance. An opportunity to present art, to and for the masses, has simply turned, as you say, into a parody of everyting that is not artistic in this world. And it's not even a good parody.

    When this is over please God [whoever your, the reader's, God may be]let the powers that be put something of artistic, social and national meaning and worth on the plinth.....Although I suspect soemone somewhere will think this is the ideal spot for a Jade Goody memorial.