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In Trafalgar Square, statues are the living end

IT'S art for the people, of the people - and definitely by the people.

A 35-year-old mother-of-two stepped onto a seven-meter-high stone plinth in London's Trafalgar Square yesterday, kicking off an art project that puts members of the British public on display in the plaza alongside statues of heroes.

Artist Antony Gormley, who came up with the idea, said it would provide "a living picture" of Britain "in all its wonderful difference."

The 2,400 participants, chosen at random from thousands of applicants, include an Elvis impersonator, a man on a folding pink bicycle and a woman dressed as a pigeon. Each will spend an hour on the 1.5 meter by 4.3 meter plinth, a statue's base, and all are free to do whatever they want with the time.

Gormley said the 100-day event would reveal "the things we find funny, the things we find scary, the things we care about, the things we love."

The performance, dubbed "One & Other" and broadcast live on the Internet, is the latest in a series of artworks to occupy an empty "fourth plinth" in the northwest corner of the square, which is also home to Nelson's Column and the National Gallery.

Rachel Wardell, a full time mother from Sleaford in northeast England, was the first participant to be hoisted onto the plinth by a mechanical lifter.

She held a sign promoting children's charities and occasionally waved to people below. Afterward, she described the experience as "really relaxing."

Next up was Jason Clark, a 41-year-old surgical nurse from Brighton in southern England, who said he planned to stand, look around, take a few pictures and read a book if he got bored.

Elvis impersonator Mark Fitch, 39, planned to pay tribute to the King. Designer David Rosenberg, 41, said he would pedal a pink bicycle to generate electricity to light up his suit.


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