August 19, 2010 / 2:54 PM / 9 years ago

Cake and cockerel vie for London's empty plinth

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Six works, including a giant Battenberg cake and a huge cockerel, are in the running to win a place on Trafalgar Square’s vacant Fourth Plinth, one of the most high-profile public art commissions in the UK.

“Battenberg,” by Brian Griffiths, is a huge Battenberg sponge cake made out of Victorian, Edwardian and contemporary bricks from around the UK.

The pink and yellow cake was invented in 1884 to commemorate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter to Prince Louis of Battenberg, not long after the Fourth Plinth itself was erected.

“To reduce the Fourth Plinth to a cake stand, I think is an interesting proposition,” Griffiths told Reuters.

Built in 1841, Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth was meant to be occupied by an equestrian statue, but was left vacant due to a shortage of funds.

Since 1998, a rolling program of often controversial artworks has used the podium.

Duo Allora and Calzadilla hope to install a working ATM cash machine inside the fourth plinth for their work: “Untitled (ATM/ Organ).”

The ATM would be hooked up to a pipe organ set on top of the plinth, so that each time a customer pressed the ATM keyboard to withdraw cash or check a bank balance, the pipe organ would play certain notes and chords.

Hew Locke’s “Sikandar” is a sculpture of a horse laden with trappings: horse-brasses, charms, medals, sabers, Bactrian treasures, Hellenistic masks and jewels.

“I looked at the original brief for the Fourth Plinth over 100 years ago and it was for an equestrian statue, and I thought: right, that’s what it needs. It needs an equestrian statue,” said Locke.

Elmgreen and Dragset have also considered the original brief for the plinth in their proposal.

“Powerless Structures, Fig. 101,” subverts the traditional war monument by putting a brass sculpture of a boy on a rocking horse where a military hero astride his war horse might be expected to stand.

Katharina Fritsch’s “Hahn/Cock” is a giant cockerel in ultramarine blue. Amidst the mostly grey architecture of Trafalgar Square, the colorful bird would make an eye-catching feature.

A fictional landscape entitled “It’s Never Too Late And You Can’t Go Back,” was presented by Mariele Neudecker. Viewed from above, its silhouette is an outline of Britain in reverse.

The winning proposal is due to be announced by the Mayor of London early next year, and will take the place of Yinka Shonibare’s “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” at the end of 2011.

The proposed works are on display in the crypt of St Martin in the Fields next to Trafalgar Square until October 31.

Reporting by Isabel Coles; Editing by Steve Addison

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