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David Shrigley gives Trafalgar Square the thumbs-up

30 September 2016

There has been much excitement in London’s Trafalgar Square, where David Shrigley’s sculpture, Really Good, is beginning its year-long residency on the vacant fourth plinth. Depicting a closed fist making an exaggerated thumbs-up gesture, the work certainly looks enthusiastic; too enthusiastic according to some

Whatever your thoughts, beware a straightforward interpretation. In spite of the mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s tribute to the thumb as an emblem of the ‘open’ image he is trying to foster for London after the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, it seems that Shrigley had more on his mind when he wrote the proposal.

‘At the time, I was thinking of political satire, a public artwork making a positive comment about the worst kind of social ills that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,’ he told the London Evening Standard. Although he has since renounced his mocking intent, others continue to see it as a sly nod to the dark side. ‘Are we all modern Stalins, an inane public demanding that artists grin and smile and affirm that life in Britain is Really Good?’ asked Jonathan Jones in the Guardian. ‘David Shrigley’s thumb is so pleased with the way things are that it wants to jab God in the eye.’

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