Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer at Trafalgar Square

If you've ever visited London, you've surely visited Trafalgar Square, a hub of activity in central London and a mecca for tourists. It is bordered on the north by the National Gallery and on the east by the church St. Martin-in-the-Fields. In the center, you'll find Nelson's Column, topped by a statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson who died in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It is surrounded by four lions and beautiful fountains. Around the perimeter of the square are four plinths. Now, if you are learning this word for the first time, as I did recently, a plinth is a heavy base that supports a statue or vase. Oddly enough, three of the plinths have statues on them, but due to lack of funds many years ago, one of them has remained empty. Through the years, it has served to showcase various works of arts that have rotated through. A permanent use is still up for debate. Interestingly enough, a 100 day live artwork project by Antony Gormley called One and Other was proposed for this summer. From July 4- October 14, individuals have been carried to the top of the plinth by a crane, where for one hour they were given the opportunity to be the center of attention--living statues, so to speak. Up to this point, over 33,000 applicants have tried for 2400 places.

I've happened by Trafalgar Square a few times this summer, and caught a few of the participants in the act. A menagerie of UK citizens have taken this chance to have their day in the sun, or the stars, for that matter since this goes on day and night, 24/7. They've used that opportunity to recite poetry, play a game, sing, preach, rant, inspire, paint, dance, and chat. The country has been amazed by some of the things they've seen.

This fellow spent half of his alloted hour setting up to promote a specific cause: safety for bicyclists in London. Eventually he got on his bike and cycled in place with his remaining time. Many have taken this opportunity to draw attention to their cause or charity. Many have worn costumes. One even wore his birthday suit last week, until a policeman told him to put on some clothes.

I felt a lot of compassion for this fair lady who was beautifully decked out, and stood faithfully in place smiling in the pouring down rain. Here's one fun thing you can do to not miss out on the action. Until October 14, you can click on One and Other and see a live feed of who is on the plinth and what they're up to. I must add a disclaimer as the website does. None of the views or opinions expressed by the participants are endorsed by me, and I hope that when you tune in what you see will be in good taste! Check back often, there's always a show going on.
Now here's my question for you. If you had an hour and the world was your stage, just what would you do?


  1. I wouldn't know what to do for 5 minutes, much less a whole hour... :)!

  2. My very first thought was that I would read a children's book. That seems a little silly as I write it.

  3. I have no idea what I would do, but this square is now on my go to list! I will report back to what I saw on Sept. 22.

    Love it!

  4. I just LOVE reading your blog...I feel as though I am there along with you! What fun stuff they do there! Your house looks awesome...we only have 3.5 floors here, so you have us beat! I just checked out the live feed & will check back again. Knowing me, I would probably crank up the hip hop music & do a little booty shaking for my hour!

  5. What exactly is a birthday suit?