I’ve become a bit of an Antony Gormley enthusiast recently. My twitter (@Lucyemold) background and header are photographs of two of his sculptures – ‘Iron: Man’ and ‘Model’ – perhaps showing that I’m a bit obsessed? I’m going to try and justify myself here.
The last year has been spent studying this fella in depth. Standing in Victoria Square, Birmingham, Antony Gormley’s ‘Iron: Man’ has been the focus of my undergraduate History of Art dissertation.
I have really enjoyed going into detail on this rusty, mummy/robot/human sculpture and making friends in high places trying to dig deeper into his history, which, by the way, is fascinating.
When he was erected in 1993 as a gift from the Trustee Savings Bank (today Lloyds TSB), he was hated by the local press and much of the public who thought he didn’t fit in with his surroundings. When Princess Diana visited Birmingham she was said to giggle at the sight of the leaning creature and some people called for him to be removed.
But today he is an asset to the city. Antony Gormley is now an internationally renowned artist, perhaps most famous for his ‘Angel of the North’ and ‘Iron: Man’ is well worth a visit if you find yourself in town. Spend some time walking around the square and looking at him from various angles – he really is an intriguing guy.
This is Gormley’s most recent work, a show exhibited earlier this year at the White Cube, Bermondsey. Gormley has said of this exhibition ‘I can’t but see this exhibition as a culmination of 32 years of exploration’ (see full interview and lots of other great videos here: whitecube.com/channel). It featured lots of human-like figures made out of a series of blocks.
The main attraction of the exhibition however was a huge human figure that you could walk through. In a vast room at the back of the gallery was a giant body lying down made out of blocks large enough to walk through. The blocks interlinked to make passage ways, tunnels and different sized rooms.
There was no artificial light – the only light that could get inside the sculpture came through gaps in some of the blocks. In some rooms you were in total darkness which created optical illusions – I found myself almost walking into a wall that I thought was a walkway.
It was almost like a playground inside – some parts of the body you had to crawl through, there were bits you could climb on (although we had to sign a disclosure before going in saying that we would not damage the sculpture and that the gallery was not liable for any damage to us) and it was altogether a great, fun piece.
These are just two of Gormley’s pieces that I particularly admire and I hope this post has explained the reasons behind my obsession – although let’s call it a fascination – with Gormley’s work.