Monday, 15 April 2013

Antony Gormley sculpture in Cambridge

Antony  Gormley:  He is internationally famous for sculptural projects like the  
Angel of the North and the amazing Field.  Yet I had no idea that we had a Gormley sculpture right here in Cambridge until I heard about it via the Cambridge Sculpture Trail.  

So I went to the Downing Site, off Pembroke Street, and I couldn't see the sculpture.

I went again a week later, and this time kept my eyes glued to the ground.  And there I found it!  Two life-size naked cast iron feet embedded in the pavement.


When I was at the Wellcome Institute in London for the magnificent Death exhibition, I saw another Gormley sculpture.  This one looks more like a typical Gormley:  a life-size cast of his own body, with seams to show where it's joined, made of iron, slightly rusted-seeming, with a featureless face.  What is startling is that it hangs from the ceiling:

gormley upside down wellcome jc

I realised that the two feet on the Downing Site are the soles of this hanging figure's feet!

gormley plant sketch

There is, in fact, an entire cast-iron body buried in the ground at the Downing Site, and all we see are the soles of the feet.

gormley feel 2001 cast iron upside down wellcome

gormley earthbound plant 2002

Gormley said:
"It's a very conscious decision to remove the body from visual perception and replace it within the body of the earth ... So this is possible sculpture, you don't really know whether it's there or not but we are invited to stand on these two feet and be the sculpture.  You then have a living, conscious body with this foundation or root."
(quotation framed on wall of entrance hallway, McDonald Research Institute)

Try standing on it!  I've done that and it is a tiny bit of a bizarre feeling.  I look forward to warmer weather (we had a glimpse of spring on Sunday! finally!) when I'll be able to take my socks off and stand barefoot on Gormley's bare feet.

Also this year I visited the exhibition of Antony Gormley's most recent work at the White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey (London).  Gormley is now making the most astonishing pixelated figures, exploded and compacted again into lonely, sad cuboid concoctions that 'sit' or 'lean' or 'crouch' against walls.

gormley at white cube bermondsey 2013

What is your favourite Gormley sculpture?

What?  Earthbound: Plant, by Antony Gormley, made of cast iron, on long-term loan from the Royal Academy in London
When?  Made in 2002.  Installed in Cambridge 4 years ago, in April 2009
Where?  Outside the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research, Downing Site (in the courtyard, half-way between the Sedgwick Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)

More pictures of Gormley sculptures:

Antony Gormley's website


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