July 17, 2024

London welcomes ‘everywoman’ sculpture to Trafalgar square


London’s iconic Trafalgar Square is set to welcome a groundbreaking addition to its artistic landscape in 2026, as organisers announced plans for a sculpture celebrating modern women in the British capital. The sculpture, named “Lady in Blue,” crafted by New York artist Tschabalala Self, will grace the Fourth Plinth, marking a significant shift towards contemporary representation in one of London’s most prominent public spaces.

The sculpture, fashioned from bronze and patinated with Lapis Lazuli blue, portrays “a young metropolitan woman of colour” striding confidently forward in a long dress and high heels. Self, whose artistic journey has been nurtured by the city of London, envisions her creation as a symbol of ambition and purpose, embodying the spirit of the city’s diverse population.

In a departure from traditional monuments, Self emphasizes that “Lady in Blue” is not intended as an idol or historical figure, but rather as a representation of an ordinary Londoner embracing the collective future with determination. The artist’s distinctive style, characterized by the use of paint, fabric, and recycled materials, adds depth and texture to the portrayal of contemporary femininity.

The unveiling of “Lady in Blue” continues the tradition of the Fourth Plinth programme initiated by the Mayor of London in 1998, aimed at showcasing cutting-edge contemporary art. Past installations have ranged from whimsical to thought-provoking, including a giant ship in a bottle and a swirl of whipped cream adorned with symbolic elements.

Currently occupying the Fourth Plinth is Samson Kambalu’s sculpture “Antelope,” which explores themes of colonial legacy and resistance in southern Africa. Kambalu’s work, featuring Baptist preacher John Chilembwe, serves as a poignant reminder of Britain’s colonial history and its lasting impact on global communities.

Looking ahead, the Fourth Plinth organisers have announced the selection of “Untitled” by Romanian-born Andra Ursuta for the 2028 installation. Ursuta’s thought-provoking piece, depicting a hollow, life-size figure atop a horse covered in a shroud, challenges traditional notions of public sculpture and commemoration in an era marked by debates over public space usage.

Additionally, Mexican artist Teresa Margolles’s “Improntas” (Imprints) is slated to grace the Fourth Plinth in September 2024, further enriching Trafalgar Square’s cultural landscape with its evocative symbolism and contemporary resonance. As London continues to evolve as a global hub of art and culture, the arrival of “Lady in Blue” signals a new chapter in the city’s ongoing dialogue with its past, present, and future.

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