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French icon to be placed under Nelson's nose

The sculpture entitled "Hahn/Cock" will be displayed in Trafalgar Square. Credit: ITN

Planning chiefs have given approval for a giant blue cockerel to be placed on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square - meaning an iconic French symbol will be sitting under the nose of Lord Nelson.

The 4.7m high statue, designed by German artist Katharina Fritsch, and backed by the Greater London Authority, was given the go-ahead by Westminster Council last night.

The formal submission to the planning committee said that Fritch was "mischievously sitting the national symbol of France within a square that celebrates an historical victory over the French", and that the bird was also "a species interloper" among the square's flocks of pidgeons.

Lord Nelson will be forced to look down on a French icon. Credit: ITN

The cockerel will be displayed in the square from the 20th of July this year, replacing the rocking horse currently on show.

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"Curious Incident" tops Olivier Award nominations

The nominations for this year's Olivier Awards have been published today - and leading the field is The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

The National Theatre production, based on the hit murder mystery novel about a boy with Asperger's syndrome, has been named in eight categories, including Best Actor, New Play, and Director.

The toe-tapping new musical Top Hat follows in second place, with seven nominations, while the West End transfer of Chichester Festival Theatre’s Sweeney Todd is also in close competition with six.

The Olivier Awards are seen as the most prestigious awards in British theatre - and have even been dubbed the "Oscars" of the West End.

Original architect: injecting life into Southbank was well overdue

Dennis Crompton, one of the original architects involved in the design of the Hayward Gallery, said:

“I remember my excitement when, in 1960, I was invited to join the team of architects at the LCC, who were working on the design of the proposed new concert hall and art gallery on the South Bank. The following year, when the project had its public launch, one member of the group expressed our ambition that there should be other facilities on the South Bank ‘so that it becomes alive ... rather than just a cultural centre’.

"Some seven or eight years later I again experienced excitement when the complex opened and I was able to wander from the riverside walk, over the walkways and terraces and through (and over!) the buildings – but there was something still missing.

"This feeling persisted for over 40 years until a warm Spring day – 22 April 2011 to be exact – when I revisited South Bank, found it teaming with people, children and adults, some relaxing on a newly-installed grassy lawn on the top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof and others dodging through the fountain on the terrace below.

"Activity everywhere. So many people just enjoying themselves.

“I felt that old excitement return. Looking at the proposals for the future I have the hope that this welcome, and much overdue, liveliness will be amplified and extended to other less clement times of the year and that perhaps the new buildings will themselves reflect the animation of the public presence.”

Plans will transform "sad and unwelcoming" part of Southbank

Architects plan to create a new glass foyer and pavilion. Credit: Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios.

The Southbank Centre says that the development will create "a world-class cultural centre for the 21st century" and address current problems with access and back-stage facilities.

Valerie Shawcross AM, London Assembly Member, Lambeth & Southwark, said:

“Southbank Centre’s proposals will transform a sad and unwelcoming part of the site into the centre piece of the cultural quarter which will offer the residents of Lambeth and Southwark many more opportunities to enjoy the arts”.

An artist's impression of how the revamped site might look from Hungerford Bridge. Credit: Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios.

Peter Clegg of Architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, said:

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the Southbank Centre team to realise their vision of the Festival site at the heart of the city. It is a real honour to be working on one of the most significant, radical and challenging works of architecture from the 1960s.”

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New glass atrium and pavilion for Southbank

The project includes:

  • A new Central Foyer - a glazed atrium that will cover the space between the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, and the Hayward Gallery.
  • A new Glass Pavilion - a venue "floating" on top of the Central Foyer, designed to hold a full orchestra of 150 and choir of up to 250 plus small audience.
  • A new 'liner' building along Waterloo Bridge, including a national literature centre and two restaurants.
  • New venues for gigs and dance performances in the undercrofts - the spaces underneath the complex.
  • general refurbishment work
  • improved disabled access

White horse sculpture unveiled on the Mall

Artist Mark Wallinger with the new sculpture. Credit: Frank Noon/British Council/PA Wire

A life-sized sculpture of a white racehorse has been unveiled on the Mall.

The statue, by artist Mark Wallinger, will stand outside the British Council's headquarters for two years before being taken abroad to be displayed.

The statue is a smaller version of the giant white horse Wallinger plans to install in Kent. Credit: Frank Noon/British Council/PA Wire

The marble and resin work is a copy of a larger, 50 metre, design that Wallinger wants to build at Ebbsfleet in Kent dubbed "The Angel of the South".

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