Jo Baxendale

The Fourth Plinth programme: why Jo Baxendale loves her job!

20 March 2017

Jo Baxendale, Visual Arts Project Manager for the Fourth Plinth, talks about working on the latest commissions and what she enjoys most about her job.

The Fourth Plinth Programme was just starting when I was studying contemporary art in London. I’ve followed it closely ever since. Now I consider myself very lucky to work on the most talked about public art project in the world.

I joined the Culture Team in September 2016 just as current commission ‘Really Good’ by David Shrigley was launched. It was a brilliant moment. We had lots of fun, as well as some early mornings and late nights in Trafalgar Square. I don’t work a 9-5 job, but that’s why I enjoy it so much. Since then I’ve been working with the talented artists shortlisted for the next two commissions. Their proposals are currently on display at the National Gallery. Two of them have just been selected for the full sized sculptures in 2018 and 2020.

The Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group has the tough job of choosing the commissions. The people on the panel are all really interesting and knowledgeable experts. I am slightly in awe of them if I’m honest and feel privileged to be in their company. It’s fascinating to hear their opinions on the proposals and discuss how they’ll look full scale on the plinth. A lot of foresight and imagination is required. So far the panel has been great at predicting the future.

I think all the previous commissions have been pretty amazing.

This year, the panel met in the wonderful surroundings of Canada House. Our meeting room had a window overlooking the Fourth Plinth, making it the perfect location for deliberations. There was lots of lively debate. It was thoughtfully chaired by Ekow Eshun and overseen by our Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Justine Simons. The public are also present through their comments made in person at the National Gallery and online on our website.

This year, the panel’s selection matched the public vote perfectly and we’ve just announced that Michael Rakowitz’s ‘The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist’ and Heather Phillipson’s ‘THE END’ have been commissioned for 2018 and 2020.

You can view the chosen works and find out more about the artists here.