Feathers fly over French cockerel statue in London's Trafalgar square

LONDON Wed May 1, 2013 3:15pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Plans to erect a statue of a giant, electric blue French cockerel in the shadow of Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square have ruffled feathers among British heritage enthusiasts.

Never mind that Lord Nelson's greatest victory, the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, was against the French, the 4.7-metre (15-foot) high statue by Katharina Fritsch has been deemed "totally inappropriate" on aesthetic grounds by the campaigners.

The fibreglass cockerel, entitled "Hahn/Cock", will replace a sculpture of a boy on a rocking horse on the square's "fourth plinth", which since 1999 has hosted artworks including a marble carving of a pregnant woman with no arms or legs, and 2,400 selected members of the public posing over 100 consecutive days.

Fritsch described the project in a statement as "mischievously sitting the national symbol of France within a square that celebrates an historical victory over the French".

But the Thorney Island Society, a local group campaigning for the preservation of heritage in central London, feels such a big and garish object would be out of place anyway.

"It is unrelated to the context of Trafalgar Square and adds nothing to it but a feeble distraction," group leader, June Stubbs, said in a letter to local city council, Westminster.

The planning application notes the society's objections and also refers to the artist's statement in which she describes the statue as a "rude or welcome interruption to the grey, formal architecture of the square".

"The bizarre scale of the bird diminishes its surroundings and, among the endless flocks of pigeons, it is a species interloper too," the German artist said.

Westminster has recommended that the statue be approved at a planning committee meeting on May 7, after which it would be on the plinth from July 20 until February 2015.

(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Louise Ireland and Stephen Addison)

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