Monday 27 August 2012

Cavendish Square W1

This equestrian statue of the Duke of Cumberland is not all it seems. It is made of soap, and will in the course of the next year gradually wash away before our eyes.
South Korean artist Meekyoung Shin created the figure, a replica of a statue that stood on the plinth from 1770 to 1868 when it was removed apparently because the public had got very queezy about the Duke's war record. His total victory over Bonny Prince Charlie at Culloden was marred by orders to release the dragoons to mow down the fleeing Highlanders. In England, a new variety of garden flower was named Sweet William in his honour. North of the border it is known as Stinking Billy.
It will be interesting to see how the statue erodes. Meekyoung Shin is, appropriately, sponsored by trendy soap makers Lush.
Cavendish Square is also currently home to Solo II by Naomi Press, the Polish-born, Zimbabwe-raised, South Africa-trained, London-based sculptor. The abstract shape in mirror-finished stainless steel, reflects Press's early obsession with ballet. For me, it reflects far too much - the reflections in the steel confuse and dilute the image.
Part of the Cultural Olympics, Solo II will go in September so now is a good time to visit Cavendish Square, both to get the Butcher before his features start blurring and to take in the Press piece.

1 comment:

Hels said...

The duke of Cumberland was indeed a butcher and a problematic historical figure. I can see why the original statue might have been moved.

So why erect another one? Even if the second one disappears within a year, the question of where to place the permanent statue will still be a puzzling one.

I would replace the original statue but write a new and informative plaque to be placed below it. That way school students can enjoy the work while learning some well documented history.