ANTONY GORMLEY | London, Royal Academy of Arts

I thought I was missing a trick at an exhibition of acclaimed British sculptor Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. You know the sort, where everyone’s in on the secret but you.

‘He’s a typical man,’ snorted the female gallery attendant to me as I stood bemused in front of two dangling balls entitled Body and Fruit suspended inches from the floor in one of the 13 rooms filled with exhibits. ‘It’s all about his penis. Fame’s gone to his head.’ Looking at the giant swinging balls that originated from Gormley’s physique held tightly in a foetal position, along with the iron casts of his body complete with aforementioned penis, I couldn’t really disagree and rolled my eyes complicitly. 

I became intimately acquainted with the Gormley form in 2005 on Crosby beach in my hometown of Liverpool, where life size iron casts of his body stand looking out to the sea. I’d never got accustomed to his naked presence, reminding me of man’s unwelcome intrusion in places of natural beauty to nature’s detriment. But that may not have been Gormley’s intended interpretation…

And now getting reacquainted with Gormley’s majestic form, left me feeling…well, like most relationships with the opposite sex, that we were on different planets. ‘There is no subject until the viewer arrives and begins to engage,’ says Gormley. In my haste on the way out, I nearly tripped over a life-size iron cast new born baby on the ground in the courtyard. Unexpectedly, I felt a rush of maternal emotion for the figure by my feet. Its vulnerability yet innate lust for life. Turns out Gormley let me in on the secret after all.

The exhibition runs until December 3rd.

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