Friday, 9 August 2013


Picture: Alex Lentati, London Evening Standard

'I'm really happy with it,' said Wallinger as he removed the sheet on a warm day last March, when White Horse  was installed on the Mall, outside the offices of the British Council. 'I think the location is beautiful and I like the way the sunshine dapples through the trees. The horse holds an important role in the life of this country, and it's nice to celebrate it a stone's throw from Horse Guards.'

Brave words. There should have been  an  unveiling of a  50-metre-tall white horse towering over Kent. Wallinger won the Ebbsfleet Landmark Project in 2009 with his proposal to have a White Horse as big as the Statue of Liberty overlooking Eurostar trains, busy roads and redeveloped land where the North Downs meet the Thames. It's the place where in Saxon mythology Hengist and Horsa arrived in Britain with the white horse as their standard. But the project has been delayed again and again - in the current economic climate it's too expensive.

It's a beautiful work in its own right, like its neighbour Katherina Fritsch's Cock a stone's throw away  in Trafalgar Sqaure (see previous blog). Unlike the statues around and about - in Trafalgar Square for example - it is unmounted, without tackle, with no one standing beside it to subjugate or show it off. Nor does it exist to tell us about history or improve our souls with a moral tale. It is serene and graceful, poised towards the corner of the plinth, as if free to roam.

But it is standing outside the British Council offices, the place where a decision has to be made about the future of the Ebbsfield project. It's a daily reminder of what might have been - and still could. Perhaps it's even a protest. 

And if you want someone who knows how to protest, Mark Wallinger is your man.

State Britain 2007 Installation view at Tate Britain Photo: Sam Drake, Tate Photography © Mark Wallinger
In 2007 he won the Turner prize with State Britain. Over the preceding 5 years a peace protester called Brian Haw had built a construction made from banners, messages from well-wishers and photographs, a traffic-stopper which ran along the south side of Parliament Square across the river from Big Ben.  As in a fairy tale - or a Disney film - it vanished as if someone with a magic wand had lifted up the whole construction. Wallinger, who had taken 800 photographs,  with Haw's help recreated the whole thing and it reappeared to run the length of the  floor of Tate Britain's magnificent Duveen Hall. 

www. Great Works: The White Horse (2013) Life-size by Mark Wallinger - Great Works - Art - The Independent,,1990916,00.html 

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