Child on rocking horse to be placed on Fourth Plinth

23 January 2012


The next commission for the Fourth Plinth, Powerless Structures, Fig 101, by Scandinavian artistic duo Elmgreen & Dragset will be unveiled in Trafalgar Square at 9.30am on Thursday 23 February 2012.

Commissioned by the Mayor of London and supported by Arts Council England, the sculpture portrays a boy playing astride his rocking horse and will be cast in bronze.

The child is elevated to the status of a historical hero in line with the iconography of the other statues in the square. Instead of acknowledging the heroism of the powerful, however, the work celebrates the heroism of growing up and questions the tradition of monuments predicated on military victory or defeat. There is not yet a history to commemorate here – only a future to hope for.

The boy's features gently mimic the authoritarian pose often found in the tradition of equestrian sculptures, but his gesture is one of pure excitement. There will be no tragic consequences resulting from his imaginary conquest.

The artists Elmgreen & Dragset said: “We always considered the small everyday battles in each person’s life just as important for the understanding of our culture as any big sensational headlines.”

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "The year that we host the greatest show on earth is an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate London's status as the cultural capital of the world. Elmgreen & Dragset have created a gleaming sculpture for the Fourth Plinth, which will be a high profile attraction during a summer like no other - with its nod to equestrianism I hope it augers well for medal glory at the 2012 Games!"

Ekow Eshun, Chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, said: "We are absolutely delighted that Elmgreen & Dragset have accepted the commission and have produced such a compelling artwork. I am very much looking forward to the unveiling next month."

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director of Arts Council England, said: “The Fourth Plinth provides a unique international platform for some of the world’s finest contemporary artists, allowing them to comment on London and the world we live in. Elmgreen and Dragset’s new commission maintains all the joy, intrigue and depth that we have come to expect, and gives a timely visibility to the place of the very young in our society. I hope Londoners take it to their hearts.”

The Fourth Plinth Programme is funded by the Mayor of London with support from Arts Council England and sees new artworks being selected for the vacant plinth in a rolling programme of new commissions. A key element of the Fourth Plinth Programme is to involve the public in debate about contemporary art in our public spaces. 17,000 people commented on the shortlisted proposals on cards at the proposals exhibition at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 2010 and via the website following the unveiling of the proposals.


  1. Michael Elmgreen (b. 1961, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (b. 1969, Norway) have been working together since 1995. They are based in London and in Berlin. They are best known for their Prada Marfa boutique in the Texan dessert and “The Collectors"; a contribution to the Danish and Nordic pavilions in the 2009 edition of the Venice Biennial, for which they received a Special Mention. The artistic duo has also had numerous exhibitions in London. In 2003 they became the first artists to do a project in Tate Modern’s Level 2 series. In 2006 the Serpentine Gallery hosted their "Welfare Show" and in 2008 the artists collaborated with The Old Vic theatre on the play, "Drama Queens". In 2010 visitors could experience several works at the Hayward Gallery in the exhibition New Decor. In October 2013 the V&A will present a major exhibition of their work.
  2. The Fourth Plinth Programme is funded by the Mayor of London with support from Arts Council England and sees new artworks being selected for the vacant plinth in a rolling programme of new commissions. The scheme was initiated in 1998 by the RSA with the support of the Cass Sculpture Foundation. In 1999 responsibility for Trafalgar Square was transferred to the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority.
  3. The Fourth Plinth Programme is led by the Mayor’s Culture Team, under the guidance of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group (FPCG). The FPCG recommends contemporary works for the Fourth Plinth. The first commission under the FPCG was Marc Quinn's sculpture, Alison Lapper Pregnant, unveiled in a public ceremony in September 2005. It was followed by Thomas Schütte’s Model for a Hotel in 2007 and by Antony Gormley’s One & Other in 2009. Yinka Shonibare’s sculpture Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle is currently on the plinth and will remain there until the end of January. In November 2011 The Art Fund and the National Maritime Museum launched a public appeal to give Yinka Shonibare MBE's commission a permanent home at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Katharina Fritsch’s commission Hahn / Cock, will follow that by Elmgreen & Dragset and will be unveiled in 2013. Previous commissions have been Ecce Homo by Mark Wallinger (1999), Regardless of History by Bill Woodrow (2000) and Monument by Rachel Whiteread (2001). Arts Council England has been a funding partner supporting the programme since 2003.
  4. A key element of the Fourth Plinth Programme is to involve the public in debate about contemporary art in our public spaces. This includes: exhibitions, conferences and talks including a community & education programme.
  5. The Fourth Plinth Schools Award Competition is open to all primary & secondary schools in London and provides an opportunity for students to design an artwork inspired by the contemporary art commissions for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. The GLA have received over 700 entries from children across London for this year’s competition. Winning entries will be announced in March and the top ten shortlisted designs will be presented in an exhibition at City Hall.
  6. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £0.85 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.


The Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group

  • Iwona Blazwick – Director of Whitechapel Gallery
  • Mick Brundle – Principal, Arup Associates
  • Jeremy Deller – Artist
  • Tamsin Dillon – Head of Art on the Underground, Transport for London
  • Ekow Eshun – Writer, Broadcaster (Chair)
  • Julie Lomax – London Director of Visual Arts, Arts Council England
  • Grayson Perry – Artist
  • Matthew Slotover - Co-director, Frieze
  • Jon Snow – Broadcaster
  • Justine Simons – Greater London Authority (Director of the Fourth Plinth)


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