Record number of entries for Fourth Plinth School Awards

28 April 2016

It has been a record-breaking year for the Fourth Plinth Schools Awards, with more than 2,700 entries involving 5,000 pupils and over 200 primary and secondary schools across London.

Using a variety of materials, from paint, to clay to metal young, Londoners have been showing their creativity and imagination, taking inspiration from the famous Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

The Fourth Plinth has over the past 15 years hosted wildly differing artworks from some of the world's leading artists, including Mark Wallinger, Rachel Whiteread, Antony Gormley, Katharina Fritsch and Hans Haacke, who made the current commission 'Gift Horse', a bronze skeleton of a horse. This year's schools awards, the annual art competition organised by the Mayor of London with prizes by Cass Art, is no different and youngsters from across the capital have been producing a huge variety of artwork inspired by the Fourth Plinth as well as life in the capital.

Winning entries for 2016 include a Tree House on Trafalgar Square; an ingenious Minecraft Pigeon made from wooden blocks; a kinetic sculpture of mechanical clock movements; a 'Tech Baby' in which cell phones become human cells; and a collage of optical illusions inspired by Londoners' busy lifestyles.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'It's been another record breaking year for the Fourth Plinth Schools Awards, with youngsters across our city once again showing off their imaginations and enormous creativity to great effect. Congratulations to all the winners and a big hand to everyone that took part in the competition.'

Clare Lilley, Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, one of the world's leading open air galleries, praised young Londoners' creativity after judging this year's Fourth Plinth Schools Awards.

Clare Lilley said: 'Judging the Fourth Plinth Schools Award was hugely enjoyable and the stories that seemed to unravel from a sweep of young people were quite remarkable. Ranging from instinctive aesthetic responses to carefully researched projects, the drawings, paintings, collages and models demonstrated the wonderful creativity and energy of the children as well as their fantastic teachers. So good, we were forced to invent new categories for prizes!'

This year's overall winners are as follows:

5-7 Years winner: Tiana John, St Joseph's Catholic Infants School, Southwark for her fantastical, highly sculptural Creature

8-11 Years winner: Jacob Martin, Finton House School, Wandsworth for the innovative metal sculpture Cutting Edge

12-15 Years winner: Beeban Jikiemi-Pearson,  Wallington High School for Girls, Sutton for her drawing Tech Baby; a baby made out of mobile phones from all over the world shows the changing impact of technology and its ability to create global networks between people.

Special prizes included a Drawing Prize, a Research Prize, a Technical Prize and an Upcycling Prize. Prizes were also awarded to outstanding teachers for the extraordinary commitment they have shown in helping their students realise their creative vision.

The Fourth Plinth Schools Awards exhibition is free to visit and runs from Friday 29 April until Thursday 7 July 2016. It includes the top prize winners in three age categories, as well as the best entry from each London borough and the Commendation Prizes.

Last year saw the start of three year partnership with Cass Art, the UK's leading art supplies retailer.

Mark Cass, founder and CEO of Cass Art, the UK's leading art supplies retailer, said: 'The artwork and designs proposed last year were really inspiring. We are delighted to continue our support of the Fourth Plinth and look forward to seeing how this year's young artists have creatively taken up the challenge.'

The Mayor's Fourth Plinth programme is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England's Grants for the arts programme.

Joyce Wilson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England, said: 'Every child should have the opportunity to think creatively and think big. The Fourth Plinth Schools Awards are a wonderful way to encourage imagination and inspiration in children. It gives vital profile to the value of art in schools, and we are delighted to be supporting it.'

City Hall is eager to welcome new schools to take part in 2017, but for more information and to see some of this year's entries visit  /

The current artwork on the Fourth Plinth 'Gift Horse' by Hans Haacke is due to remain in place until the autumn and will be followed by 'Really Good' by David Shrigley.

Notes to editors

Fourth Plinth Schools Awards

Organised by the Mayor of London in partnership with Cass Art, this annual competition is open to all primary and secondary schools in the capital for students aged between 5-15. Students are encouraged to produce their own work of art, inspired by the contemporary art commissions for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Those entering can use any medium, including drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, digital and video. Group and individual entries are welcome and there is no limit to the number that each school can put in.

The artwork of the winners of the competition is not displayed on the Fourth Plinth itself.

Entries are submitted to the Fourth Plinth Schools Awards website where all entries can be viewed:

The Fourth Plinth Programme

The Fourth Plinth Programme is the most talked about contemporary art prize in the UK. Funded by the Mayor of London, the programme invites world class artists to make astonishing new works for the centre of the capital city. An established icon for London, it has been referred to as 'the smallest but most prominent sculpture park in the world'.

The programme 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 Fourth Plinth Programme is now led by the Mayor's Culture Team, under the guidance of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group (FPCG). Its first commission was Marc Quinn's sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant, unveiled in 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 MBE's sculpture Nelson's Ship in a Bottle remained on the plinth until the end of January 2012 and now has a permanent home at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Powerless Structures, Fig 101 by artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset was unveiled in 2012 and will be housed permanently at the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Denmark while Katharina Fritsch's Hahn / Cock was unveiled in July 2013. The latest work, 'Gift Horse' by Hans Haacke, is the tenth commission and will stay on the plinth until autumn 2016.

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 significant funding partner of the programme.

The next commission to appear on the Fourth Plinth will be 'Really Good' by David Shrigley which will be unveiled in Autumn 2016. 

Cass Art

Cass Art is on a mission. Let's Fill this Town with Artists. Underpinned by the company's long standing manifesto, Cass Art is committed to encouraging everyone to realise their creative talents by providing the world's top quality materials at accessible prices.

The first Cass Art store opened in 2001 on Kensington High Street. The Soho store then followed in 2003, Charing Cross in 2004, Islington in 2006 which boasts 7,500 square feet of retail space across three floors, Hampstead in 2010 and Kingston in 2012.

Mark Cass's original art store opened in 1984 at 13 Charing Cross Road. This site has been an art store for over 115 years next to the National gallery.

With over ten thousand product lines at Cass Art ranging from paints, drawing materials, craft kits and a large collection of kids activity items, every product is carefully handpicked to inspire the creative spirit and is available both in-store and online.

The new Cass Art E-commerce site ( launched in September 2013 with over 4,000 products available for delivery across UK with a click and collect service in all six stores. It is the only art supplier in the UK to offer Same Evening delivery to London. Cass Art also delivers Next Day across the UK. The website comes as Cass Art looks to launch additional stores across the UK – with the intention to fill this Nation with Artists.

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 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.  

The Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group

Jo Baxendale – Arts Council England

Iwona Blazwick – Director of Whitechapel Gallery

Mick Brundle – Principal, Arup Associates

Jeremy Deller – Artist

Tamsin Dillon – Curator

Eleanor Pinfield – Head of Art on the Underground

Ekow Eshun – Writer, Broadcaster (Chair)

Matthew Slotover - Co-director, Frieze

Jon Snow – Broadcaster

Justine Simons – Mayor of London (Director, Fourth Plinth Programme)


Clare Lilley

Clare Lilley is Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP), one of the world's leading open air galleries with over 400,000 visitors each year. Since 2010 she has had lead responsibility for YSP's exhibitions and projects, the collection, public engagement and learning.

She has curated exhibitions of some of the world's most eminent artists, including Ai Weiwei, Fiona Banner, Amar Kanwar, KAWS, James Lee Byars, Shirin Neshat, Yinka Shonibare MBE, James Turrell and Bill Viola. For the past few years she has also selected Frieze Sculpture Park, a temporary free sculpture park in London's Regent Park.

Clare sits on the Advisory Committee of the Government Art Collection, is a board member of Site Gallery, Sheffield and ART UK, a member of the Perrier Jouët Arts Salon, and the Women Leaders in Museums Network. She has nominated and judged art and architecture awards including the RIBA White Rose Awards, the Northern Art Prize, the Arts Foundation Sculpture Prize, the Paul Hamlyn Awards for Artists, and the Nasher Sculpture Prize, Texas.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a pioneering place that aims to challenge, inspire, inform and delight, just like the Fourth Plinth, so we are excited to see your submissions and Clare's winning selections!


Share this page