The Fourth Plinth is probably the most famous public art commission in the world.
It all began back in 1994 with Prue Leith, then chair of the Royal Society of Arts. She wrote a letter to the Evening Standard suggesting that something should be done about the empty plinth in Trafalgar. This sparked a flurry of public debate. Five years later, it hosted the first artwork, ‘Ecce Homo’ by Mark Wallinger.
Since then, the Mayor of London’s Fourth Plinth programme has invited leading artists to make sculptures for the plinth. These artworks have so far included a bright blue cockerel, a golden rocking horse and even Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle.
The Fourth Plinth has attracted a huge amount of public interest. It has a legion of followers, both in the UK and worldwide. There’s also a Fourth Plinth Schools Awards competition every year. It gives London’s primary and secondary school students the chance to create artworks inspired by the commissions.