Heather Phillipson Greater London Authority


Fourth Plinth: 2016

Located in Trafalgar Square, the Fourth Plinth was built in 1841 and was meant to hold a statue of William IV but, due to insufficient funds, remained empty.

Over 150 years later, the Fourth Plinth now hosts a series of commissioned artworks by world class artists and is the most talked about contemporary art prize in the UK.

On the plinth: 'Really Good'

On the plinth this year is David Shrigley's 'Really Good'A giant hand in a thumbs-up gesture, and with a really long thumb at that, must mean that something, somewhere, is really good.

But what is that something and where is it? Is it Trafalgar Square? Or all of London? Or maybe the artwork itself? And if it’s so good, why is that? Who says so? And will we agree?

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The Mayor of London's Fourth Plinth has always been a space for experimentation in contemporary art. It is therefore extremely fitting for this exciting exhibition to be opening at the Institute
of Contemporary Arts, London – an institution with a like-minded vision that continues to champion radical and pioneering art.

This innovative and thought-provoking programme has generated worldwide appeal. It has provided both the impetus and a platform for some of London’s most iconic artworks and has brought out
the art critic in everyone – even our taxi drivers. Bringing together all twenty-one proposals for the first time, and exhibiting them in close proximity to Trafalgar Square, this exhibition presents an opportunity to see behind the scenes, not only of the Fourth Plinth but, more broadly, of the processes behind commissioning contemporary art.

It has been a truly fascinating experience to view all the maquettes side-by-side in one space, to reflect on thirteen years’ worth of work and ideas, and to think of all the changes that have occurred over this period: changes in artistic practice, the city’s government, the growing heat of public debate surrounding national identity and how we are represented through the objects chosen to adorn our public spaces.

The triumph of the Fourth Plinth is that it ignites discussion among those who would not usually find themselves considering the
finer points of contemporary art. We very much hope this exhibition will continue to stimulate debate and we encourage you to tell us what you think at:


Justine Simons

Head of Culture for the Mayor of London

Gregor Muir

Executive Director, ICA 

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