Pasadena Plinther Ponders Pottery, Poetry and Pigeons Across the Pond

Sep 21, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different……. San Marino Artist is About To Be Part of History with the  Fourth Plinth Project

closeupworkThis summer, sculptor Antony Gormley invited people in the UK to help create unique living monument.  He asked people to occupy the empty Fourth Plinth located at Trafalgar Square in London, a space that is normally reserved for statues of Kings and Generals, in an image of themselves, and” a representation of the whole of humanity.”

Pasadena artist Frank Gallagher,  said he was up to the challenge when a friend pointed out the Gormley’s brainchild.   Gallagher (All Industrial Arts) is a well-read, charismatic Irish artist who spends a lot of time in England and Ireland. He decided he’d try out for a spot on this coveted Fourth Plinth –  ” for a bit of a laugh really…”   Wouldn’t you know it,  Gallagher  was one of those selected for his one hour of fame atop the Fourth  Plinth  which is next to Nelson’s Column. When he got the news he was selected, an ecstatic Gallagher said,  “This is absolutely fantastic, I cannot believe it.”

While some may question Gallagher’s rightful place atop the Forth Plinth next to elder statesmen and generals Tuesday next, Pasadena’s Poet of Pots points out that he is the recipient of, in fact,  a plethora of battle-scars received over the years in Pasadena and the UK-certainly enough to warrant a nod and an honorary wink of acceptance from those elder statesmen and generals who will adorn the plinth the not too distant future. These generals will no doubt make way for this Irish artist who now calls Pasadena, California home.

plinth2The ‘Poet of Pots’ (a term coined in a Los Angeles Times article a few years ago) will be taking his appointed hour on Tuesday  Sept 22, at 5pm Pacific time. It will actually be 1am in London when Gallagher takes the worldwide spotlight.

Apparently hundreds of thousands of Brits are willing to stand in the London fog amid the chilly rain for an hour to be part of this century’s version of  “Speakers Corner” in Hyde Park and have it documented in real time on the internet.  The response to the project has been overwhelming according to organizers.

Many of Gallagher’s friends and other expats of the UK will be watching the artist’s plinth performance from afar in the comfort of his favorite local pub and eatery, Brits on Colorado.

Every hour, 24 hours a day, for 100 days without a break, different people who were randomly selected will make the Plinth their own. Once selected,  you can use your time on the plinth as you like  –  to demonstrate, to perform, or simply to reflect.

One & Other was open to anyone in the UK. Participants were picked at random, chosen from the thousands who entered, to hopefully represent the entire population of the UK.

The rules are simple: Plinthers must stand on the plinth alone, for the whole hour;  they can do whatever you want, providing  it’s legal;  and plinthers can take anything that they can carry.

What does Gallagher plan on doing once high above Trafalgar Square?  At his San Marino studios Tuesday, The Pasadena Independent got a sneak preview of his plans which take the form of a wooden frame, a skeleton  if you will,  of one of his signature pots.  He has masterfully arranged the shell of this pot so he might assemble it quickly once atop the plinth next Tuesday in London.

Having only an hour in which to assemble and explain his presence on the Plinth, Gallagher plans on erecting the pot and covering the skeleton of the beautifully shaped masterpiece with wet newspapers ( one of which may be an edition of the Pasadena Independent you are now reading)  to form a sort of skin as a base  on which to place photos of his friends and anything else that comes to mind.  Gallagher plans on explaining the process in his deep and eloquent Irish vernacular. He will also recite some archetypal poetry. We asked him what he was going to which Gallagher replied, “ That’s a secret.”

For those who might not have heard of the fourth plinth in Trafalgar square,  Frank Gallagher offers this epitaph: “ There is no high art…it all belongs to the man in the street . Art is for everyone.”   and as Gallagher  himself stresses……enjoy the art of living..

According the Guardian newspaper in the UK, Antony Gormley’s fourth plinth art project was censored in August after a naked participant was ordered to cover up by the police.  Interestingly enough, topless women seem to cause less of a bother to the local constabulary.

plinth3“The living sculpture, who gave his name only as Simon, aged 49, was lowered on to the plinth in Trafalgar Square at 1am, fully clothed and waving. Left to his own devices, he then stripped off – raising cheers, wolf whistles and laughter from bystanders, as well as a cry of: “Well done mate”.

Simon is not the first person to have stripped off during the project and probably won’t be the last. One woman went topless and covered her breasts with red paint.  Another male participant, who went by the name of Lilac Bonzai, appeared in a dress, fishnet tights and high heels before undressing completely in the afternoon.

The artist who started this, Antony Gormley, said: “The idea is very simple. Through putting a person onto the plinth, the body becomes a metaphor, a symbol. In the context of Trafalgar Square with its military, valedictory and male historical statues, this elevation of everyday life to the position formerly occupied by monumental art allows us to reflect on the diversity, vulnerability and particularity of the individual in contemporary society. It’s about people coming together to do something extraordinary and unpredictable. It could be tragic but it could also be funny.”

Artichoke, an Arts Council regularly funded organization, best known for bringing The Sultan’s Elephant to London in 2006 and La Machine to Liverpool last year – is producing the event as part of the 2009 Sky Arts Artichoke Season ( The site features real time footage at any hour of the day or night, as well as a unique application that will enable visitors to the site to see how many people from their own, and other regions across the UK have applied.

The project known as One and Other is giving 2,400 people the unusual opportunity to perhaps do what many in the UK do profess, pontificate or appear simply  as the Perfect Plinthcess( as one young cross dresser called himself)  or just occupy the plinth for an hour doing absolutely nothing… 24 hours a day, for 100 days. See: for a constant  live web cam and information on this project that has thousands transfixed on Trafalgar Square’s latest attraction.

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Read the Full Story at Pasadena Independent



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