It's so real looking that no one in the little park believed it. But it's true: this realistic sculpture of the Duke of Cumberland on his faithful steed is made of soap. And it's been created to wash away over the year.
The plinth that it is standing on has been empty since 1868. Cavendish Square, its location, was built in the early 18th century and the plinth in 1770, for the statue that once stood upon it. It seems that the original equestrian statue of the Duke of Cumberland was removed because he fell into disfavour due to his persecution of the Scottish Highlanders.
Now he is back, courtesy of Korean artist Meekyoung Shin. This monument, called Written in Soap: A Plinth Project, will sit in the busy square for a year, through all kinds of miserable weather conditions.
The sculpture has a metal-based skeleton but the actual body uses melt and pour soaps all made from 100% vegetable based ingredients including coconut and palm oils (ecofriendly). The soap (provided by Lush) will be perfumed and so release a sweet smell as it disintegrates. The skeletal frame within will be attached to the base and keep the work upright and in position during all kinds of weather.
The sculpture’s appearance will change noticeably over the course of the year due to weathering by wind, rain, snow, and heat. The exploration of weathering as an artistic process is key to the artist's work.
This TreeHugger will be there to photograph its progression throughout; as the weather takes its toll.
The artist has a fascination with works that are made of soap. Her last works in London were a series of huge "glass" vases which looked like Chinese porcelain but were made of soap. The only thing that gave them away was the slight smell of sweet soap in the air of the gallery.
It's been weeks of rain and he is showing the toll on his foot and tail.
More rain, and the horse's tail is looking bad.
The horse's mouth is starting to go...
Serious cracks in the horse's body.
It's been a long and a lonesome road for the Duke of Cumberland.
The tail is looking sad.
Will he last the winter?
He's looking more ragged than ever...
but still standing.
Oh no, his arms are gone.
It's been a wet and rainy summer.
This is the end: the Duke is gone: 2012-2016. RIP.