Sculptor Sir Antony Gormley defends controversial roofstop statues at university launch
PUBLISHED: 18:12 22 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:47 23 April 2017
The artist behind three controversial sculptures at the University of East Anglia (UEA) has defended the pieces and said they may open up debate on the pressures facing students.
Renowned sculptor Sir Antony Gormley, who is behind the Angel of the North, unveiled his 3x ANOTHER TIME installation on Saturday, which features three cast iron human figures around the campus.
While one stands at ground level, two rest atop university buildings and have proved divisive - while supporters say they are thought-provoking artwork, others say they are as insensitive to those with mental health problems or those who have lost loved ones to suicide.
Sir Antony said the concerns were a “shame” and added: “The work is about life, not about death - they are not an incentive to go and top yourself.
“I think they invite you to think about what it might feel like to stand at the edge of a building and maybe they do connect... With the vulnerable part of all of us.”
He said he hoped they would start conversation about the pressures of “competition and a sense of ever-diminishing potential of finding a job” facing students, concerns he said needed to be addressed “very, very seriously”.
The sculptures are part of a wider series and build on a growing trail at the university.
More than 200 people attend the launch, held at the Sainsbury Centre, including actor and writer Stephen Fry, who said he is a “huge admirer” of Sir Antony and said it was “wonderful that he had added to our beloved county”.
Sir Antony described UEA as an “extraordinary place with these amazing skylines”, and said the sculptures, looking out at various viewpoints over campus, represented a “feeling of openness to the world”.
“They are up there looking at a horizon that we can’t see when we are immersed in this campus,” he said.
Among the guests were Celia and Gerry Hawkins, from Brundall, regular visitors to Sir Antony’s sculptures.
“I think they are everything to different people - they can be whatever you want them to be. There’s something different every time you visit them,” they said.
• What do you think of the sculptures? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, NR1 1RE.