A timid, cowardly U-turn

In what some are calling his first blunder as mayor, Boris Johnson has made a U-turn over his support for a statue to military hero Sir Keith Park on Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth.

Despite backing the campaign to honour the Second World War hero during his election campaign, the Evening Standard reports that the new mayor has now said he has to withdraw his support for the scheme.

He will continue the existing rolling programme of contemporary sculptures. "The Fourth Plinth would be a wonderful spot, but it now appears that complex planning issues would make it difficult to secure this location on an ongoing basis. There are also outstanding commitments to exhibit contemporary sculpture on the Fourth Plinth."

Munira Mirza, Mr Johnson's new cultural adviser, was previously critical of Marc Quinn's sculpture of the disabled mother Alison Lapper. She called it "preachy" and said the initiative was up for review along with other cultural projects associated with the former mayor, Ken Livingstone.

Johnson has now acknowledged broad public backing for the plinth art over the last nine years. He said: "I recognise that this revolving programme has proved very popular and I welcome the important contribution it has made in shaping public debate about contemporary art.

Precisely what 'broad backing backing'? What 'public debate'?

From his statement, it seems that the mayor has not just withrawn support specifically from the Keith Park proposal, but from the whole idea of a more widely chosen, permenant fixture on the fourth plinth.

The name of the next artist to win the commission for the Fourth Plinth is due to be announced within weeks. The shortlist includes Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor. Great.

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Submitted by admin on Fri, 2008-05-30 09:42.