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David Shrigley has planted a suggestive, seven-metre-tall thumbs up on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth.

His phallic bronze artwork, named Really Good, is the eleventh sculpture to take up the spot in the iconic London square.

Shrigley has described the abnormally elongated thumb – which weighs a hefty 45,000 kg and is the tallest yet to inhabit the plinth – as being ‘about making the world a better place’.

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‘Obviously, this is a ridiculous proposition, but I think it’s a good proposition,’ said the Turner-prize winning artist. ‘Artworks on their own are inanimate objects so they can’t make the world a better place. It is us, so I guess we have to ask ourselves how we can do this.’

London mayor Sadiq Khan, who also took part in the sculpture’s unveiling, said the towering digit reinforced the message that the city is moving forward, post-Brexit.

‘What this represents is so important: optimism, positivity, the best of us,’ he said. ‘This sculpture shows Londoners, visitors to London, tourists, EU citizens, immigrants that London is open.’

The well-endowed sculpture is characteristic of Shrigley’s often-mischievous work, which spans illustration, music, film and even football mascot design. It even warranted praise from Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones who described the ‘stupendous vertical thumb’ as a ‘21st century answer to Nelson’s Column’.

Other recent pieces hosted as part of the long-running Fourth Plinth art programme include a skeletal horse by Hans Haacke, and a giant blue cockerel by Katharina Fritsch. Contributions have also come from Yinka Shonibare, Antony Gormley and Marc Quinn.

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