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The 'Angel of the South' will be a huge horse

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Mark Wallinger unveils his winning design. Picture: Nick Johnson
Mark Wallinger unveils his winning design. Picture: Nick Johnson

It's official.

A 50-metre statue of a standing white horse will be the symbol to put north Kent on the international map.

That is the hope of Ebbsfleet Landmark Project organisers, who have picked Mark Wallinger’s design as the sculpture to symbolise the Ebbsfleet Valley and dominate residents’ skylines.

It seems to have been the front-runner since day one, but on Tuesday, more than 18 months after launching the art project, dubbed the Angel of the South, its judging panel finally unveiled the winning design.

Wallinger, a 2007 Turner Prize winner, said his creation, 33-times the size of a thoroughbred horse and the same height as Nelson’s column, is synonymous with Kent.

“I spent some time in Dartford library researching the area and a lot of time at the site. I felt it needed something organic and recognisable immediately. And just through research and hunches the idea of the horse came to me pretty quickly.

“It would have been the mode of transport for countless communities here and the fact the chalk and cement industries used to be based here also meant it was appropriate.”

However, it has not struck a chord with everyone. Countless of you have emailed and written to us with your own suggestions for the £2 million project, and many, including Kent County Council, said they wanted to see the design altered to recreate a horse rearing up on its hind legs.

But Victoria Pomery, director of the Turner Contemporary in Margate, and chair of the selection panel, is confident the choice was the right one. She said: “Our decision was made on artistic merit and Mark’s outstanding response to the brief. What we were looking for was something that would be stand-alone, eye-catching. All of the pieces brought different things, but it was something about the real immediacy of this design that made the panel feel it was the right one for this site.”

Wallinger’s white horse was part of an original shortlist of five designs, including Daniel Buren’s tower of stacked cubes, Richard Deacon’s steel “nest”, Christopher Le Brun’s wing and disc, and Rachel Whiteread’s recycled mountain.

Tuesday's announcement took place at Swan Valley Community School in Swanscombe.

• Do you agree? Is the horse the right design for Kent? Join in our poll below, or click on the Make a Comment tab to join the debate.

• Editor's note: Thank you for all your comments so far. We would like to point out that no taxpayers' money is being used to fund the project.

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