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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.

Fourth plinth is 'must-see cultural attraction'

Mayor of London Boris Johnson says the fourth plinth has become an important part of London's art scene:

"I am immensely proud to support the Fourth Plinth, which has become a must-see cultural attraction for London, one that underpins the capital's status as a great world city for art. Just a few minutes walk away from Trafalgar Square itself, this exhibition promises a fascinating journey through the work of some of the best international artists working today."

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Fourth plinth celebrated at special exhibition

It stood empty for more than 150 years - an empty plinth whose intended artwork was never completed.

But over the last 14 years, the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square has hosted some of the world's most feted contemporary art.

Now its role in the arts world is being formally celebrated, in a special exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

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