Thursday, March 25, 2010

Antony Gormley, British sculptor

As many of you know, I am very proud of my Geordie heritage (you might need to Google "Geordie" if you're not from the UK), so when my lovely friend Libby told me that there was a lot of buzz in London around Antony Gormley I had to check it out for myself.

I then realized that I do know his work! He is the British sculptor who created "Angel of the North". A magnificent steel sculpture of a graceful angel standing 66 feet tall, with wings measuring 178 feet across. The wings themselves are not planar, but are angled 3.5 degrees forward, which Gormley has said aims to create "a sense of embrace". It stands on a hill, overlooking the A1 road, in Gateshead and can also be seen from the East Coast Main Line rail route, and is just South of the site of Team Colliery (which again is close to my heart, as my Father became a coal miner at Bowburn's nearby colliery at the tender age of 15!!!!):

I did a little research and found that there was some controversy surrounding the unauthorised decoration of the Angel in 1998. Fans of Newcastle United paid tribute to local hero Alan Shearer by putting a £1,000 Newcastle United shirt over the sculpture, complete with Shearer's name and famous number 9. The shirt managed to stay up for 20 minutes, but the police arrived and removed it.

The sculpture is locally known as the "Gateshead Flasher", for the proximity to the town of the same name and the analogy of an opened arm flasher:

Yesterday (March 24, 2010), Antony created a new public art installation in New York City title "Event Horizon". It features 31 life-size sculptures of himself. The artworks are spread out throughout the Madison Square Park area of Manhattan. Some are obviously placed, and others are tucked away on rooftops and ledges. Gormley explains: “There are two kinds of things going on: one are the inert, silent sculptures, and the other is what’s happening on the ground and how people stop each other and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? You know, what’s this guy, what’s this silent guy who’s got no clothes on, what’s he doing here? Oh my God, there’s another one!’”

The 2006 Sydney Biennale featured Gormley's Asian Field, an installation of 180,000 small clay figurines crafted by 350 villagers from Xiangshan Village, Guangdong in 5 days from 100 tons of red clay:

Other notables works:

Quantum Cloud was erected in 1999 in time for the opening of the Millennium Dome (now the O2 Arena) and is Gormley’s tallest work, standing at some 30 metres high, rising from a platform bedded in the Thames:

Havmannen ("The Man from the Sea") is a granite stone sculpture located in the city of Mo i Rana in Northern Norway. The sculpture stands proud in the "Ranfjord", which is often referred to in Norway as "Polarsirkelbyen" ("Arctic Circle City"). The sculpture is 11 meters tall and weighs 60 tonnes.