Samson Kambalu’s Antelope on the fourth plinth

September 29, 2022

The 14th Fourth Plinth sculpture has been unveiled, having been delayed for a few weeks due to the death of the queen.

Antelope by Samson Kambalu represents two men, who vary enormously in size, turning their backs on one another: John Chilembwe (the larger figure) and John Chorley. They’re the first named individuals to be represented on the plinth since the debut commission in 2005, Marc Quinn’s sculpture of Alison Lapper.

John Chilembwe (1871-1915) is a national hero in Malawi, where he features on banknotes and has a dedicated national day. The preacher and educator was one of the first Africans to mount a serious uprising against British colonial rule in the early 20th century. His campaign was short-lived and not immediately successful, but it proved influential on later liberation movements across Africa and beyond.

The other figure, John Chorley, was a British missionary who posed next to Chilembwe in a famous 1914 photograph. His statue is intentionally much smaller.

“By increasing his scale, the artist elevates Chilembwe and his story, revealing the hidden narratives of underrepresented peoples in the history of the British Empire in Africa, and beyond,” explains the Mayor’s office.

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