London’s most popular square is about to get its very own cherry on the cake by way of artist Heather Phillipson’s The End commission for the Fourth Plinth. The artwork, a generous lashing of whipped cream, cherry, a fly and a drone will be unveiled on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square on 26 March 2020. It will be the 13th sculpture since the programme began in 1998, following on from The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist by Michael Rakowitz, which is currently in situ.
Phillipson’s vast physical and digital sculpture tops the Fourth Plinth with a giant swirl of replica whipped cream, a cherry, a fly and a drone that transmits a live feed of Trafalgar Square. Exuberant, uneasy and suggesting hubris and impending collapse, The End responds to Trafalgar Square as a site of mass gathering, celebration, protest and personal broadcast, shared with other forms of life. The live feed of the square picked up by the drone’s camera will be visible to passers-by on a dedicated website, offering a fly-on-the-wall perspective. The work will occupy the plinth until March 2022.
Justine Simons OBE, deputy mayor for culture and creative industries, said:
“This is a striking new work by Heather Phillipson. At first it seems playful, but this sugary swirl has an unexpected twist, as a drone’s camera will be watching us watching it. It will spark a conversation about contemporary art and help us think about the Fourth Plinth in a whole new way, continuing its legacy of putting world-class contemporary culture in the heart of London.”
Phillipson works across video, sculpture, web projects, music, drawing and poetry. She has been selected as the next artist for the Duveens Galleries commission at Tate Britain (16 June -18 October 2020). Her recent solo projects include new commissions for Sharjah Biennial 14 and the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (both 2019), Art on the Underground’s flagship site at Gloucester Road, an online work for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and a major solo show at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (all in 2018). Phillipson received the Film London Jarman Award in 2016, the European Short Film Festival selection from the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2018 and is also an award-winning poet.
A new monograph of work by Phillipson will also be published to coincide with the unveiling of the plinth, covering significant exhibitions, public commissions and a selection of her writing from the past decade. It will be co-published in spring 2020 by Prestel publishing limited and Art on the Underground and in partnership with the GLA and Baltic centre for contemporary art.
The Fourth Plinth Programme is the most popular public art project in the UK. Funded by the Mayor of London with support from Arts Council England, the programme invites world-class artists to make astonishing new works for the centre of the capital city. An established icon for London, it brings out the art critic in everyone.