Workers rights broadcast from Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square!

Blimey! Bingo! Brilliant!

I got a slot on the “One & Other” project of artist Antony Gormley – A chance to spend an hour on the most glamorous soapbox ever offered to me – the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square!

You can watch the footage of me here.

Gormley offers this welcome to the fortunate few selected to take part: “The 6.3 square metres on top of the plinth will be a testing ground for our freedoms and our identities, singular and collective.” His raw material is 2,400 people, who can do or say whatever they want (that is legal) during their hour on the platform in the heart of London.

Be yourself” he advised.

Well, there wasn’t going to be much alternative in my case, as I was a last-minute substitute with zero prep time and only those props immediately to hand – so it was going to have to be ad-libbing for an hour after just a few hours sleep…

I chose to devote my hour to the people who and places that are being denied the freedom of expression that I was enjoying on what proved to be an extraordinarily beautiful dawn in Central London…

I’d hoped to lead some chanting, but despite Amnesty and LabourStart tweeting the occasion (thanks Ben and Eric) and Claire and Moyra’s much appreciated presence, it turned out better to talk to camera rather than address the few hurrying commuters during my 7 to 8 in the morning slot on Thursday 8 October…

Trafalgar Square, of course, is a famous site for demonstrations, and I can remember being part of nuclear disarmament demos, gay rights kiss-ins, trade union rallies, stop the war protests, Burma demos and the perpetual picket against Apartheid and many other protests -  but it's something quite different to make a noise while standing here on the Plinth!

There’s a lovely bit at the 49 minute mark, while I am in mid-flow about trade union rights in Colombia when the Harris Hawk employed by a sub-contractor to control the pigeons in the Square lands on the mike over my shoulder. It seems appropriate to give this bird a pet name – how about “Uribe” – a 'jessed' but dangerous hawk at the service of  greater powers?

If I hesitate at times, and maybe have strayed “off message” that’s partly down to the distractions of the extraordinarily beautiful setting and glorious morning that was the constant backdrop to my opportunity…

There’s a health warning attached: One hour of my monologue is hard for anyone to stomach – the trade union content and 30th anniversary content runs throughout, but if you want to dip into the main bits, start at the 30 minutes mark…my remarks on women's rights, LGBT rights and the Gambia Six and much more are in the first half…

If you appreciate the effort, please click the “I like this bit” button and even better, add a comment to the One & Other page and this blog – the more feedback, the more likely that strangers will visit the page…you know the score!

Thanks to all, especially at Amnesty and in our trade union network, and the great folks in the One & Other event team, for your encouragement and support…it was thrilling to me to be part of this arts project which I have admired and enjoyed since it was conceived (how much better real people on the plinth rather than a bronze equestrian memorial)…a fantastic experience…
 

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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