Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 by Martin Cox
Britain’s National Maritime Museum has launched a fundraising campaign to buy the current “Fourth Plinth” artwork, Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle by Yinka Shonibare.
Over the past six years the ‘empty’ Fourth Plinth in the northwest corner of Trafalgar Square in London has been home to some of the world’s most innovative artworks. The plinth was originally designed by Sir Charles Barry in 1841 to display an equestrian statue, however due to insufficient funds the statue was never completed. In 1998 – over one hundred and fifty years later – the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) commissioned three contemporary sculptures by Mark Wallinger, Bill Woodrow and Rachel Whiteread to be displayed temporarily on the plinth.
Following the enormous public interest generated by these commissions, the Mayor of London began the Fourth Plinth Programme to continue this tradition and build on its success. The Fourth Plinth has since featured works including Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant (2005), Thomas Schütte’s Model for a Hotel (2007) Antony Gormley’s popular One and Other (2009) and the current commission Yinka Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (2010). The choice of works is led by the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group. This choice is in part informed by the comments that the public submit and in part informed by the views and opinions of the panel.
‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’ is a sculpture of Nelson’s flagship ‘HMS VICTORY’. The sculpture considers the relationship between the birth of the British Empire,
made possible in part by Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, and multiculturalism in Britain today.
“For me it’s a celebration of London’s immense ethnic wealth, giving expression to and honouring the many cultures and ethnicities that are still breathing precious wind into the sails of the United Kingdom.” – Yinka Sonibare, MBE
Now the Greenwich-based National Maritime Museum wants to provide Yinka Shonibare’s sculpture of Nelson’s flag ship with a permanent home when it is replaced by the next sculpture in Trafalgar Square in January.
The Art Fund has already contributed a £50,000 grant to the campaign. However the museum will have to raise an additional £362,500 to buy the piece and keep it on public view. The National Maritime Museum is asking for public donations to make up the amount and has set up a fundraising site at www.artfund.org/ship. The sculpture is 3.25 metres high and 5 metres long and weighs 4 tons.