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28 October 2014

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You are in: London > Entertainment > Visual Arts > Features > Quinn sculpture inaugurates plinth project

Marc Quinn and a model of his winning sculpture

The statue has taken 10 months to build

Quinn sculpture inaugurates plinth project

The first in a series of commissions for the vacant Fourth Plinth has been unveiled in Trafalgar Square. We look at the background to the project and hear from the winning artist Marc Quinn...

Fact File

  • Marc Quinn was born in 1964 in London, where he continues to live and work
  • He graduated from Cambridge University in 1986 and had his first solo show two years later at London's Jay Jopling gallery
  • He gained notoriety with his 1991 work Self, a refrigerated cast of his head using nine pints of his own blood
  • The work was later bought by Charles Saatchi for a rumoured £13,000
  • Since then Quinn has produced a diverse range of work, most of which is preoccupied with changing physical states of the human body

A new model of heroism has ended the vacant 164-year history of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square - and provided Nelson with a bit of company.

In a public ceremony today (15 September), Marc Quinn's sculpture, Alison Lapper Pregnant, was unveiled for installation by Mayor Ken Livingstone.

The winning plinth sculpture of the artist's friend Alison Lapper - who was born without arms and with shortened legs - is a portrait of her when she was eight months pregnant.

"I've made sculptures of disabled people before," Marc Quinn told us, "It seems to me that they're some of the most unrepresented people in the history of art."

The artist, who came to prominence in 1991 with a cast of his head made with nine pints of his own blood, was speaking to BBC London from a stonemason's yard outside Pisa in Italy.

It is here that his sculpture has been scaled up from his initial design and carved from white marble, a process that has taken 10 months to complete before its transfer to Trafalgar Square.

modern tribute

"I felt the square needed some femininity, linking with Boudicca near the Houses of Parliament," continued Mr Quinn, "Alison's statue could represent a new model of female heroism."

Marc Quinn's Fourth Plinth sculpture

A close-up section of the statue

When the sculpture was first commissioned, Alison Lapper, an artist herself,  professed her delight with the decision, calling it a "modern tribute to femininity, disability and motherhood."

Today her son is five years old and her enthusiasm remains undimmed. "I'm going to be up in Trafalgar Square, little me, for 18 months to two years!" she told us.

"I hope it has an impact. It could also give my career as an artist a proper platform." she continued.

The 12-tonne sculpture is one of two works selected from a shortlist of six other artists.

The winning artworks were chosen by the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group after taking comments from the public, who saw scale models at the National Gallery.

Mr Quinn's statue will be displayed on the plinth until April 2007 when it will be replaced by another controversial choice, Thomas Schutte's Hotel for the Birds.


last updated: 25/01/2008 at 11:01
created: 15/09/2005

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Patricia Bouche
The statue was amazing anyways,it is unfortunate to be yet again having to face a contravertial issue in it being of a women without arms. In truth, it is nor here of there as the beauty of the whole thing is in the life that she carries within her. The hope and strength for life that she portrays in the eye of adversity and criticism... so and indeed, well done.

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