Antony Gormley is probably most widely known as the man behind The Angel of the North. Actually, he’s the man of the Angel of the North, using his own body as the subject for a huge number of sculptures designed to challenge our perception of ourselves and the space that we live in. Recently, as part of the Blind Light exhibition at The Hayward, Gormley has erected 31 casts of himself and put them on rooftops and walkways around London. Well, not personally – I’m sure he had some help. Every one of them faces the Hayward gallery, turning the watchers into the watched – and keeping Londoners looking skywards for the last 2 months.
Putting aside the rumours that Gormley himself is actually inside one of the life-size casts, I naturally wanted to find them all. So since I had this afternoon off from work and it’s not far from the office, I decided to stalk Antony Gormley’s creations for a little while. And I think, armed with a trackstick and camera I’ve managed to find all 31 of them. It’s very difficult to tell now, which are the same statues from different angles.
Three viewing terraces at the Hayward provide the means to see all of the statues, and as Gormley’s previously commented – it’s very interesting to become part of the small community on that rooftops, trying to find them all. Whether actively pointing them out – or passively seeing other people do the same. It’s also rather eery to have all of those lifeless bodies staring back at you.
And Event Horizon isn’t the only attraction nearby. Inside the gallery, there are a huge number of sculptures and exhibits , including Allotment II, 300 reinforced concrete life-sized units each modelled upon the inhabitants of Malmo. Every single one is different, and you can’t help but be impressed at the sheer number of them, as well as yes – as the guide says – it’s anthropomorphic heaven. Throw away all your 20th century ideals of not being allowed to have first impressions any more. These are concrete blocks, and you won’t be hauled off to jail for being sexist, racist, ageist or judging someone by their appearance in any way. You can’t help but find your favourites or make random judgements over what sort of person they would be. Well I couldn’t.
Blind Light, the namesake of the entire exhibition is a massive glass box filled with a bright white fluffy cloud. The result of this, is that once inside you can’t see a damned think. After wandering around, barely able to see your own hands held out in front of you – you will have no idea where you are. Ghostly shadows will occasionally pass by and if you keep going, you’ll find the edges of the box where spectators will see your face emerge from the mist. It’s very surreal, but a great experience, and yet another example of Gormley making the spectators a part of the art. Not one for the claustrophobic, perhaps.
I won’t list everything else, I promise. Go for yourself and experience the world through different eyes. What I will do, is talk about another Gormley gem in the mostly forgotten area of London that we call Greenwich. The Quantum Cloud stands at 30m tall, making it even larger than the Angel of the North at Gateshead. In fact, until the construction of the B of the Bang sculpture in Manchester, 2005 – it was the largest sculpture in England. The Quantum Cloud sits on the Thames, by the pier at the newly opened O2 Arena, formally known as the Millennium Dome. It’s formed of hundreds of 1.5m lengths of random steel rods, at the centre of which you can make out the 20ft tall man standing amongst the cloud. But don’t look too closely, or you won’t see it. Magic eye, eat your heart out.