The famous Trafalgar Square lions will soon get a new companion for the London Design Festival. An interactive sculpture will be added, that will be able to create poetry out of words spoken to it.

Located at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, the bronze statues of four lions are known as the ‘Landseer Lions.’ They were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer in 1858, a famous painter previously known for his series of paintings of lions, dogs and horses.

Trafalgar Square, London. UK
The famous Trafalgar Square lions are located at the base of Nelson’s Column in London

The new fluorescent red lion will go up this September and is designed by artist Es Devlin. She is known for her innovative sculptures that fuse light, music, and technology. Known as “Please Feed The Lions,” the interactive sculpture is the culmination of a year-long collaboration between Es Devlin and Google Arts & Culture. It uses a learning algorithm developed by a creative technologist at Google, Ross Goodwin.

There will soon be a new addition to the Trafalgar Square lions

Visitors can talk to the newest of the Trafalgar Square lions, ‘feeding’ it with fragments of speech. It will then mix these words to create poetry that it will “roar” aloud, and which will also be displayed inside its open mouth. At the end of the day, the finished poem will be projected onto the lion and Nelson’s Column as part of London Design Festival. After the festival, the sculpture will be digitised as part of an online exhibition on Google Arts & Culture for people ass over the world to experience.

Trafalgar square lions
“Please Feed the Lions” by Es Devlin will soon be at Trafalgar Square. (Image by London Design Festival)

The sculpture was inspired by a walk Devlin took through Trafalgar Square with LDF chairman, Sir John Sorrell. While discussing the Trafalgar Square lions, “He said, ‘Landseer never wanted those lions to look so passive; he proposed a much more animated stance, but Queen Victoria found it too shocking’… The thought lodged in my mind. What if we could invest the lion with a diversely crowd-sourced collective poetic voice?” she says.

Please Feed the Lions will be on display at Trafalgar Square as part of London Design Festival from 18 to 23 September 2018. You can find out more at the festival’s official website here.

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