My Failures, 2004 - present

"This section was part of the show Joy in People and is called "My Failures" – a section of works that I wish I'd been able to make but wasn't able to".

MyFailures Installation view, Hayward gallery, London, 2012.

Mission Accomplished, 2004


"I intended to replicate the “Mission Accomplished” banner that hung behind then-President George W. Bush as he gave his famous victory speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003. It did not get made, as the subject was just too raw at the time. The Post-It to the right references the text on a leaflet that was put through the door in poor, mostly black, districts in Florida during the 2000 presidential campaign. It was a (presumably) Republican strategy to discourage traditional Democrat supporters – the election was on the 5th (not the 6th as the flyer suggests) and you don’t need to pay fines to be eligible to vote. The other note references Donald Rumsfeld meeting Saddam Hussein in 1983. There is footage of this: they discussed regional security in the light of the ongoing Iran–Iraq War and ways to transport Iraqi oil out of the country. Rumsfeld would have known that Iraq was using chemical weapons against the Iranian army and Kurdish separatists at the time."

Fourth Plinth Proposals, 2008

DrKelly Dr David Kelly Fourth Plinth Proposal. Artist’s rendering of Dr David Kelly sculpture on the plinth. TheSpoilsOfWar The Spoils of War (Memorial for an Unknown Civilian). Model of the destroyed car on a plinth.

"These are two ideas I had for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. I think the more you try to make art for the Fourth Plinth, the worse it gets. So I didn’t approach it as an artist, more as a citizen. One idea, The Spoils of War (Memorial for an Unknown Civilian), was to exhibit a car that had been destroyed in Iraq in the heart of the former British empire, as it were. Trafalgar Square is surrounded by colonial embassies and the site itself explicitly commemorates a battle. My other idea was to display a life-sized statue of David Kelly – the scientist who killed himself after being accused of sharing with journalists his doubts regarding the government’s notorious WMD dossier. Kelly paid the ultimate price for his involvement in the scandal – he was humiliated during a televised parliamentary inquiry and was made to feel the full weight of governmental scrutiny. It was a shameful event in British public life."

Rejected Tube Map Cover Illustration, 2007

RejectedTubeMap Artist’s original concept.

"Transport for London (TFL) asked me to design a cover for the Tube map, which I eventually did. The first idea, though, was to depict a bicycle symbol in the colours of the map. The word came back that it was a confusing message and unsuitable as you can’t take your bike on certain lines, which was kind of the point in the first place."

Proposal for the Olympic Park Gateways, 2010

Olympic Artist’s original concept.

"This was an idea I pitched for gateway sculptures at the 2012 Olympic Park. I suggested Stonehenge – or menhir-like structures, to mark the entrances and exists of the park. They would have looked like they had been there for thousands of years, with the site built around these pre-Christian objects. Eventually the Olympic Park will be a ruin too, as ruined and weathered as these objects. It was a comment on British identity, about which there is neverending debate. Stonehenge is possibly the most famous site in the UK, but of course no one knows what it is or what it was used for. It’s a bit like British identity itself: open to interpretation."