Written in Soap: A Plinth Project is a new public art commission by Korean artist Meekyoung Shin on display in Cavendish Square in central London for one year from 24 July 2012. The artwork recreates in (Lush) soap the original equestrian statue of the Duke of Cumberland that sat on a plinth in the square from 1770 to 1868 and was removed in the nineteenth century due to widespread disapproval of his actions at war – where he gained the charming nickname of ‘Butcher’. The new commission will make use of the Cavendish Square plinth for the first time in 144 years and bring focus to the passage of time as the sculpture weathers through the four seasons that follow.
As the sculpture erodes due to the effects or the weather, specifically rain and snow, the scented soap will disintegrate and release a perfumed aroma. The details of the statue will soften and fade over time symbolising the mutable meanings we attached to public monuments and, in a wider sense, to all aspects of history.
Meekyoung Shin has exhibited internationally and is renowned for recreating replica versions of antiquities in household soap. Initially trained in Korea in a classical tradition of European sculpture, the artist subsequently moved to London where she became drawn to the many objects removed from their place of origin and placed in vitrines and on plinths in museums and other art institutions to act as representatives of other cultures. She began to make copies of the artifacts in soap, an everyday material that has a close resemblance to marble when moulded but disintegrates as it weathers rapidly, mirroring the effects over generations of time on the original and ancient sculptures created in seemingly more durable materials.
Soap for Written in Soap is donated by LUSH, and is 100% vegetarian, formulated from a palm-free soap base. The project has received additional support from Haunch of Venison.
Written in Soap: A Plinth Project
24 July 2012 – 30 June 2013