Believe in Discontent Shortlisted for Fourth Plinth

Ruth Ewan’s Fourth Plinth maquette

Ruth Ewan: Believe in Discontent VOTE HERE

I have always believed in discontent — not grumbling, which is usually selfish and individual — but a disinclination to sit idly, knowing things are wrong.

Charlotte Despard (1844 – 1939), who addressed many crowds in Trafalgar Square throughout her life.

This sculpture is based on a mass-produced ornament of a black cat. The cat has been remodelled to have a gently arched back, its ears tilted and a slightly open mouth. Rather than friendly, it begins to look hostile. The sculpture addresses ideas of hierarchy in its form, challenging supposed differences between sculpture and ornament.

Trafalgar Square’s dual history is another theme. The picture postcard tourist landmark vs the platform for an often invisible social history from below. It has witnessed many public protests and attempts to control them. As such, it is a battleground for what EM Forster called ‘the fight that is never done’.

The title quotes activist and suffragist Charlotte Despard. Suffragists were portrayed as cats in popular media, and the word catty is still used as a derogatory term. The black cat is also a symbol of the occult, a bad omen, and yet conversely, also a good luck charm.