The empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square provides a free, public platform and creative outlet for some of the world’s most inventive artists.

Trafalgar Square in central London is a famous landmark as well as scene of the city’s major demonstrations, celebrations and events. Except for the northwest side of the square, each corner contains a plinth hosting a statue depicting celebrated military officers Henry Havelock, Charles James Napier, and King George IV, constructed in or soon after 1841 following a dramatic redevelopment by architect John Nash. The empty stage is known as the Fourth Plinth and was originally intended to hold a statue of William IV astride a horse, but remained unoccupied due to a lack of funding available for the commission. After standing unused for more than 150 years, since 1999 the plinth has been used as a public platform for modern art installations awarded by the Arts Council England and the Mayor of London. The installations alternate on a rotating basis, with previous winners including Anthony Gormley’s “One and Other” featuring volunteers from the public as a representation of humanity and what citizens felt they had to represent, Marc Quinn’s statue of pregnant artist Alison Lapper and the most recent, Katharina Fritsch, with her much-loved bright blue Hahn/Cock. 

As of March 2015, the Fourth Plinth is hosting “Gift Horse” by German artist Hans Haacke, who described it as a critical response to the current City market overspending and government-imposed austerity cuts. Mayor Boris Johnson would rather not concede the undeniably strong link between the emaciated horse skeleton with an electronic ribbon displaying the London Stock Exchange ticker wrapped around it, but the artist himself has agreed that it is indeed a reflection on “something not being quite right”. The Plinth, along with the rest of Trafalgar Square and indeed most outdoor monuments in London, is entirely free for viewing and bound to inspire some interesting, possibly provocative conversations with fellow curious observers around you.