Sculpture

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NEIL HALL

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The sculpture was meant to be in place on 26 March but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic

A “beguiling” sculpture depicting a whirl of cream topped with parasites has been unveiled in Trafalgar Square.

The installation on the Fourth Plinth – home to a rolling commission of public artworks – was postponed by four months because of the impact of coronavirus.

But the “dystopian” artwork – complete with a cherry, a drone and a fly – has now been unveiled.

Passers-by will be able to use their mobile phones to live-stream what the camera-equipped drone can see.

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.

Sculpture

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Reuters

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Heather Phillipson said she was “honoured to have been selected to make work for such a significant public site”

Sculpture

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Reuters

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The art “reflects the landmark as a site of celebration and protest, that is shared with other forms of life”

It replaces artist Michael Rakowitz’s recreation of a protective deity destroyed by Islamic State in Iraq.

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.”

Sculpture

Image copyright
NEIL HALL

Image caption

Passers-by will be able to use their mobile phones to live-stream what the camera-equipped drone can see

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.”

Sculpture

Image copyright
NEIL HALL

Image caption

The End, by British artist Heather Phillipson, will stay in place until spring 2022

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”.

The Fourth Plinth commissions have seen many works over the years, including Marc Quinn’s sculpture of pregnant Alison Lapper and Yinka Shonibare’s scaled-down replica of HMS Victory, contained in a glass bottle.

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