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A sculpture by New York-based artist Tschabalala Self has been nominated for Trafalgar Square’s prestigious “fourth plinth” competition – a space on the central London landmark which has featured the work of rotating artists since 2005. The current work, Antelope by Samson Kambalu will soon be replaced by 850 Improntas by Teresa Margolles who will occupy the plinth until 2026.

Self’s work, “Lady in Blue” – a bronze-cast Black woman striding in a blue dress – has been selected as one of the seven finalists, with the winner set to be announced by the Fourth Plinth commission at the end of March. “This sculpture pays homage to a young, metropolitan woman of colour, much like the many one might encounter in today’s London,” Self says. Two winners will be selected to appear on the plinth for its next two cycles, between 2026-2028 and 2028-2030.

In the meantime, models of all shortlisted works can be seen in room one at the National Gallery in London until 17 March 2024.

Self says that she has been working on the proposal for about a year, a process that begins with an original drawing. “From there the figure is sculpted digitally, then 3D printed where the work is further manipulated,” she says. The figure is a “symbol of our shared present and future ambitions – the aspiration of equity through representation, recognition, and action,” Self wrote in her proposal to the commission. “It is inspired by a desire to bring a contemporary ‘everywoman’ to Trafalgar Square. A walking icon of the everyday, rather than an idol representing the adulation of one.” 

The sculpture from the front. James O Jenkins/Greater London Authority.

Self says that it would mean a “great deal” to win. “It would mean the opportunity to have an artwork in a public square in one of my favourite cities.” London’s Parasol Unit hosted Self’s first major exhibition. “The city of London has really supported my artistic development,” she says.” “I would really appreciate the opportunity to give back to the city’s visual landscape with this public art project.”

To vote for Self’s work to appear on the fourth plinth, follow this link.

Tschabalala Self is editor-in-chief of Something Curated‘s sister publication, Elephant. Header photograph by James O Jenkins/Greater London Authority.

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