Antony Gormley transforms London’s skyline with his first retrospective

Anthony Gormley is Britain’s most beloved sculptor, and his new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery is vast, uncompromising and characteristically ambitious. Jesse Errey speaks to Gormley on the eve of his new exhibition, and looks at how he has become Britain’s most important, and most celebrated, “public artist”. Gormely says it is not something he ever set out to be, nor has he ever imagined hims
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Anthony Gormley is Britain’s most beloved sculptor and “public artist.” From a rather inauspicious artistic beginning following graduation (tellingly, Gormley originally studied archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge before going on to Goldsmiths and the Slade), in which he was paid to paint psychedelic and apocalyptic murals for nightclubs, Antony Gormley has always chosen projects that display public visibility and public relevance, or resonance, within a space.

Gormley is best known for his Angel of the North, a man-machine with vast wide wings embracing the sky, the hills of Tyne-and-Wear, and the A167 rumbling below. An installation on Crosby Beach in Liverpool, Another Place, featured a hundred figures – all of them casts of Gormley’s own body – standing at evenly spaced intervals across a 2 mile stretch, revealed and concealed in turn by the ebb and flow of the tide. The famous Field featured thirty-five thousand handmade clay figures – “hand-sized and easy to hold, with eyes deep and closed” as Gormley specified to the several generations of Mexican bricklayers and clay workers who created the piece – and won him the 1994 Turner Prize.

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Jesse Errey
About the Author
Jesse Errey is a singer and freelance writer who has lived and worked in the UK and the Netherlands. She is a graduate in physical theatre and modern mime from Theaterschool, Amsterdam, and has a Diploma in Fine Art from Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam.