Alison Lapper Pregnant
September 2005 - October 2007
Marc Quinn's sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant was the first new commission for the Fourth Plinth under the auspices of the Mayor of London’s Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group and it garnered significant public interest as well as global media attention. Alison Lapper is a critically acclaimed British artist. She has the medical condition phocomelia.
Here’s how Marc Quinn described the sculpture:
'The sculpture is a portrait of Alison Lapper when she was 8½ months pregnant. It is carved out of one block of white marble and stands 3.55 metres high. At first glance it would seem that there are few if any public sculptures of people with disabilities. However, a closer look reveals that Trafalgar Square is one of the few public spaces where one exists: Nelson on top of his column has lost an arm. I think that Alison's portrait reactivates this dormant aspect of Trafalgar Square. Most public sculpture, especially in the Trafalgar Square and Whitehall areas, is triumphant male statuary. Nelson's Column is the epitome of a phallic male monument and I felt that the square needed some femininity, linking with Boudicca near the Houses of Parliament. Alison's statue could represent a new model of female heroism.
‘In the past, heroes such as Nelson conquered the outside world. Now it seems to me they conquer their own circumstances and the prejudices of others, and I believe that Alison's portrait will symbolise this. I'm not physically disabled myself but from working with disabled sitters I realised how hidden different bodies are in public life and media. Her pregnancy also makes this a monument to the possibilities of the future.'
Marc Quinn was born in London in 1964, and graduated from Cambridge in 1986. His work addresses ideas of mortality and survival.
Marc Quinn has published a book about the Fourth Plinth project. The book traces the inspiration for the work — through Quinn’s drawings, references (such as the Venus de Milo) and early maquettes — to its creation — the casting of Alison Lapper and carving in Italy — and installation in Trafalgar Square.