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The Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square is the premier showcase for artists. Every year a new public art work is exhibited on the empty pedestal and it is always sure to cause a stir. The most infamous was Antony Gormley's which featured a different person on the column every hour for 100 days. Now there is Yinka Shonibare's ship in a glass bottle.
But what's up next? The shortlist of 6 has just been announced and three of the candidates are women and three make their work out of old, recycled and reclaimed materials. Happily, several are concerned with environmental issues.
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Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla are concerned with environmentalism, globalisation and consumerism. The tortoises sunning themselves on a log in the Pearl River, China are part of a video which examines the impact of industrialization on life along the river. Another of their pieces consisted of five-foot high slabs of chalk placed in various public squares. People were invited to use the chalk to write, draw or simply doodle on the surface of the street. Ruin, 2006 was sculpture made out of steel in which all the pieces were recycled.
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Hew Locke makes brilliantly coloured but slightly sinister pieces out of scrap materials including sequins, plastic guns and silk flowers. His series on the Royal Family, including Princess Diana raised a few eyebrows but he sees it as a way to examine Britishness in a global context.
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Brian Griffiths' art uses bits of everything: cardboard, string, and sealing-wax, old textbooks, fifties and sixties furniture; all found on the streets of London and at garage sales. He creates giant sculptures of boats, chariots evoke travels to mythical lands.
Mariele Neudecker does recreations of the weather in glass tanks and videos. One memorable piece showed the rising and setting of the sun at opposite ends of the earth and another showed mountain ranges shrouded in fog.