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27th December, 1999

270 SUGGESTIONS FOR TRAFALGAR SQUARE''S VACANT PLINTH



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MORE THAN 270 DIFFERENT SUGGESTIONS RECEIVED SO FAR FOR PERMANENT STATUE ON TRAFALGAR SQUARE''S VACANT PLINTH

From history''s most famous figures to abstract images of sacrifice and service - suggestions have been pouring in for a permanent statue or work of art to occupy the vacant plinth in Trafalgar Square.

More than 550 members of the public - at home and overseas - have so far put forward 275 different suggestions for consideration by Sir John Mortimer''s advisory group. They will be making recommendations to Culture Secretary Chris Smith - who set up the group - next year.

But there is still time for people to make further suggestions and Sir John is keen to gather the views of the widest-possible number.

Publishing details of ideas received so far, Sir John Mortimer said:

"We have had a splendid response to our appeal for ideas for a permanent statue to occupy the vacant plinth in Trafalgar Square.

"It is a tribute to the imagination and individuality of those responding so far that such a wide range of suggestions have come forward. It is not, of course, a contest where the person or idea receiving the most votes is chosen - our conclusions must take account of the unique setting in which the vacant plinth stands and the importance of the Trafalgar Square to the nation.

"But I want to be sure that the public have had a proper chance to put their views forward before we make our final recommendation next year. That is why I hope even more suggestions come forward from all parts of the country."

Notes to Editors

1. A list of suggestions put forward so far both direct to Sir John Mortimer''s committee and via the Royal Society for the Arts (who are sponsoring the present temporary sculptures on the plinth by modern British artists) is attached, together with the number nominating each.

2. The Advisory group set up by Chris Smith to make recommendations on the future of the vacant plinth in Trafalgar Square is made up of:

Sir John Mortimer (Chairman)

Professor Peter Clarke (Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University)

Richard Cork (Chief Art Critic, The Times)

Bob Crowley (award-winning stage designer for the RSC and the National)

Cllr Bob Harris (Chair of the Arts and Leisure Committee of the Association of Local Government and Deputy Leader of Greenwich Council)

Neil MacGregor (Director of The National Gallery) Elsie Owusu (Architect and principal of Elsie Owusu Associates)

Baroness Rendell of Babergh (the crime novelist Ruth Rendell).

3. Suggestions for the vacant plinth should be sent to:

Sir John Mortimer c/o The Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2-4 Cockspur Street LONDON SW1Y 5DH

who will pass them on to Sir John Mortimer''s advisory group.

or can be registered on the Fourth Plinth website - http://www.overwired.com/4th/future.html

4. The Culture Department is responsible for the care, control and management of Trafalgar Square, and, under the Public Statues Metropolis act 1854, the Secretary of State must give his give formal approval for the putting up of any new statue in London, including temporary exhibits. Planning permission and liste building consent from the relevant local authority may also be required; in the case of the temporary structures, Westminster City Council gave the appropriate consents in March.

5. The plinth on the north west corner of Trafalgar Square has been empty since the Square was laid out in the 1840s. Records indicate that the two plinths on the north east and north west corners of the Square were originally designed by Charles Barry for a group of bronze statues , but the estimated cost of these exceeded the agreed budget. The statue of George IV, which now occupies the north east plinth, was originally designed to stand on Marble Arch (then in front of Buckingham Palace), but was placed in its present position because of a change of plans for the Arch and Buckingham Palace.

6. Provisions have been included in the Greater London Authority Act 1999 to transfer responsibility for Trafalgar Square from the DCMS to the new Greater London Authority.

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