What would Lord Nelson say? A giant rooster - the symbol of France - has taken up a perch beneath the admiral's statue in Trafalgar Square, which celebrates Britain's 1805 defeat of Napoleon's armies. The 15.4ft fibreglass artwork took its place on the vacant Fourth Plinth today and will stay up for 18 months. London's mayor Boris Johnson unveiled the ultramarine blue sculpture, named Hahn/Cock, today alongside German artist Katharina Fritsch.
'I definitely never thought about the French thing. But it's a nice humorous side-effect to have something French in a place that celebrates victory over Napoleon,' Fritsch told The Guardian newspaper. She also said she hoped the double meaning in the work's name would appeal to the British sense of humour. 'I know they like to play games with language,' Fritsch said, adding that her sculpture mocked male posturing in a square full of military statues.
Mr Johnson told BBC London: 'It is a ginormous blue Hahn Cock, as it's called.' He also joked about David Cameron's plans to get internet providers to block pornography, saying: 'I think if you tried to Google it in the future, the Prime Minister would stop you from finding it.' Local conservation group The Thorney Island Society objected to the sculpture and had tried to block its display. 'It is unrelated to the context of Trafalgar Square and adds nothing to it but a feeble distraction,' its members wrote in a letter to Westminster City Council.
'The only tenuous argument put forward is the artist’s dubious claim that the “cockerel is a symbol for regeneration, awakening and strength”. 'More to the point is that the artist boasts it is seen as “a rude interruption to the grey formal architecture of the square”. This is neither a happy nor pleasing criterion for the use of this most significant location.' Fritsch said Hahn/Cock was a 'victory for feminism' in the square. She told the Evening Standard: 'I'm a female sculptor. The man is the model. For thousands of years they've made pictures of us, the women. I've changed the role.'