Trafalgar Square, London. Wallinger unveiling. : LUSENET : Public Art : One Thread

Mark Wallinger's Ecce Homo unveiled 21st July 1999

An on-the-spot report by Jo Darke, PMSA Chief Executive

Mark Wallinger's Ecce Homo was unveiled today (21st July 1999) at 8.15am to a small crowd, assorted pigeons, and residents of the Square (some still asleep on their benches). Prue Leith, former Director and Penny Egan, present Director of the RSA gave short speeches, and the drapery was raised by the same crane that had installed the marble-composite figure an hour or so beforehand: you could see it truly was lifesize because some of the installation team were still on the plinth, in hard hats (in odd contrast to the crown of thorns on Wallinger's humble rendering of Christ) - someone started to polish him - I didn't have my camera - too early in the morning. (It has been too early in the morning all day.)

This was the culmination of months of frustrations, stops and starts, high hopes and hopes dashed ... and the only one of other campaigns to get the fourth plinth filled that has actually succeeded. Everyone felt enormous relief and pride at what the RSA, Sculpture at Goodwood and their cheer-team had achieved in four years of ups and downs and sheer dogmatic perserverence. I thought the music-hall song 'I live in Trafalgar Square, Four lions to guard me ...' etc was appropriate, and hummed it a bit.

This sculpture will be followed by at least two others by leading sculptors Rachel Whiteread Bill Woodrow making the fourth plinth a display space for British sculpture and a focus for dialogue about public art - this was the intention of the exercise, and this was proclaimed in the speeches made at this morning's opening.

The small-scale statue, standing on the very edge of the plinth, marbly white instead of dulled bronze or stone, fulfilled my expectations that, despite its ridiculous scale (the site needs a large group), it WORKS: perhaps because this humble but dignified figure, which stands out at least in its texture and colour, has established a presence against the odds - in our minds we say 'See? It CAN work'. It has to be said that this was the one proposal of the three selected from a short list of about a dozen that had not been particularly favoured by PMSA people who were consulted about the selection. As representative, I was charged with voting for the Whiteread and the Woodrow, but not the Wallinger. But it does work, and I rather like it.

Now that the deed is done, we await public reaction. Will they continue to doze on their benches as itwere, or will public debate flare? We shall see: Watch This Plinth!

We hope to post a photograph of the sculpture in situ at this site in the near future. ______________________________ This bulletin is brought to you by the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association.

Website address:

Jo Darke can be contacted by email at

-- Jeremy Beach (, July 21, 1999

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