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What does the Bishop of Norwich think about the controversial Antony Gormley statue at the UEA?

PUBLISHED: 13:12 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:06 21 April 2017

The Antony Gormley statue on the roof of the UEA library. Picture: Louisa Baldwin

The Antony Gormley statue on the roof of the UEA library. Picture: Louisa Baldwin

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The Bishop of Norwich has entered the debate over the controversial Sir Antony Gormley sculpture at the University of East Anglia ahead of its official unveiling.

File photo of artist Sir Antony Gormley. Picture Press Association. File photo of artist Sir Antony Gormley. Picture Press Association.

Some have criticised the figure, which has been placed on top of the UEA’s library, saying it appears to be somebody considering jumping off the building and a petition has been set up urging the removal of the sculpture.

Speaking on Radio Four’s Thought for the Day the Rt Rev Graham James said there was “something majestic” about the sculpture but added he was not seeing it under “personal stress or anxiety”.

MORE: UEA faces backlash over ‘tactless’ decision to put Antony Gormley’s human statue on the roof of library

“My own first impression of Gormley’s figure was of its dignity, standing so upright and seemingly confident,” he said. “There is something majestic about the human form crowning the rather severe library building, implying human values are greater than utilitarian ones.

“But I realise I’m not looking at it when under intense personal stress or anxiety. Since so much of Antony Gormley’s work is about our relationship with our bodies, it seems inevitable our own self image will shape our response more than we think.”

MORE: Antony Gormley’s rooftop sculpture at UEA is offensive, clumsy and dangerous

Bishop Graham then went onto discuss Mark Wallinger’s sculpture Ecce Homo, which depicts Jesus standing with his hands behind his back and wearing a crown of barbed wire.

He said: “Both Gormley and Wallinger in their different ways invite us to explore what it is to be authentically human.”

The figure is part of the 3x ANOTHER TIME installation and is one of three Gormley sculptures at the university which are being officially unveiled tomorrow.

MORE: Petition launched to get ‘unsettling’ Antony Gormley statue removed from UEA library roof

The other two similar sculptures are being placed on the library walk way and near the ziggurats.

The installation builds on an existing sculpture trail in the grounds of the Sainsbury Centre and the university campus.

Paul Greenhalgh, director of the Sainsbury Centre, has defended the decision to put the sculpture on the roof and explained the thinking behind it.

He said: “Sir Antony positioned the works himself, and the positioning is very much part of the idea. “The best way to approach the whole thing is to walk the route between the figures, and to think about what they might mean, and why the artist placed them where he did.”

MORE: Director of Sainsbury Centre responds to criticism of Sir Antony Gormley sculptures at UEA

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