We are hugely excited that Professor Samson Kambalu’s powerful sculpture, ‘Antelope’, featuring John Chilembwe and John Chorley, has been shortlisted for Trafalgar Square’s empty fourth plinth.
Malawi-born Professor Samson Kambalu is a highly respect artist, academic and author who trained as a fine artist and ethnomusicologist at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College. He is an Associate Professor of Fine Art and MFA Course Tutor at the Ruskin, and a Fellow at Magdalen College at the university of Oxford.
‘Antelope’ is one of six works shortlisted for the fourth plinth, all of which are currently on view at The National Gallery.
Kambalu’s bronze statue represents the pan-Africanist John Chilembwe (1871-1915), a key figure in the resistance to colonialism in Nyasaland (now Malawi). He is shown making the defiant gesture of wearing a hat, which was forbidden under colonial British rule. Beside him, on a smaller scale, stands the European missionary John Chorley.
The fourth plinth is arguably one of the world’s most famous art commissions. It stood empty until 1998, when it was decided to use the space to bring contemporary art and debate to millions for free.
The shortlist is by invitation, from the Mayor of London’s office, with Londoners able to vote for the final work to be exhibited.
Trafalgar Square (like many parts of Scotland) has numerous statues and memorials celebrating British colonial power. We strongly support ‘Antelope’ as an occupant of the fourth plinth, as a powerful statement of anti-colonial resistance.
MaSP is committed to raising awareness of Malawi’s history, most especially its fight against colonial power. Members of the SMP have included leading historians such as Prof John McCracken, Prof John Lwanda, Prof Jack Thompson and Prof Ken Ross, who have worked to help amplify Malawi’s powerful voices from this time.