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The Butcher of Culloden is brought to life in soap

This is an idea I like.

Many of you may have seen Meekyoung Shin’s soap sculptures before — she had a huge solo show at the Haunch of Venison last year. One of her themes is examining how her soap sculptures erode over time, and in the past she has worked on her “Toilet Project” – Soap Buddhas placed in public conveniences which are worn down as people use them for washing their hands.

So here’s a really ambitious project: create a massive statue out of soap, leave it in a public square for a year, and see what happens. Before Cavendish Square becomes a bubble bath in London’s rainy summer, check out the incredible detail in the sculpture – particularly the Duke of Cumberland’s fancy coat. Or you can see some detailed pictures of the work in progress in Meekyoung’s Hackney studio at

Meekyung Shin: Written In Soap — A Plinth Project

A new public art commission made of soap is unveiled on 23 July in Cavendish Square, London.
23 July 2012 — 3O June 2013

Written In Soap graphic
Equestrian Statue in Cavendish Square, London Town and Country Magazine, February 1771

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 23 July 2012. The artwork recreates in 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. 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 of 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, Shin 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.

Written in Soap is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Arts Council Korea, with additional support from the Korean Culture Centre UK, and Haunch of Venison. Soap for Written in Soap is donated by LUSH FRESH HANDMADE COSMETICS. Lush soap is formulated from a palm-free soap base and is 100% vegetarian. This project forms a part of All Eyes on Korea, Festival of Korean Culture.

Meekyoung Shin (b. 1967 in South Korea) lives and works in Seoul and London. She completed her BFA and MFA in Seoul National University and moved to London in 1995 to obtain her MFA at Slade School of Art.

Cavendish Square is situated north of Oxford Street in London’s busiest shopping district. The square was built in the early 18th century and the plinth in 1770. The original statue in Cavendish Square was The Duke of Cumberland, the third son of King George II. His statue was erected when he enjoyed a brief moment of popularity following his victory over Bonnie Prince Charles and the Jacobites at Culloden in 1746. However, he fell out of favour with the masses when his punitive measures against the uprisings in Scotland earned him the name of ‘Butcher’.


(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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