A new exhibition by one of Britain’s most exciting young sculptors, Antony Gormley, receives its only

‘Hold' by Anthony Gonnloy'

5 British showing at Edinburgh’s Gallery of Modern Art. He talked to Geraldine Prince.


Sculptor Antony Gormley‘s work was last seen in Edinburgh in the Arts Council‘s British Art Show in 1985. Then his lead figures were viewed within the same context as the work of those new figurative painters intent on ‘retreiving the image‘. But Gormley‘s art moves away from recognition ofobjects in the world. away from the material towards the spiritual. ‘Much art of our time is happy to be a reflection of both the good and the bad. to be a window on the world and take no position‘. he says ‘l‘m not sure I agree with that.‘

Instead. in (iormley‘s work. enigmatic forms abstracted from nature and human figures standing. crouching. hovering function as channels ofcommunication for the individual. ‘I hope that the works will open us to that side ofourselves we all carry. irrespective ofwhat language we choose to formulate it in; I want the aura surrounding something which encourages you to think about life. death. hope. fear. about how one can cope with being spiritual beings in a material world.‘

The contemplative state (iormley‘s sculptures induce is implicit in his

working method. For the figure pieces. Gormley‘s own body is encased in plaster. defying communication. enforcing total concentration. From the resulting moulds- sometimes not just of his body but also that of Vieken Parsons. his wife fibreglass forms are cast. then covered in sheets of beaten lead. soldered together. Their joining ‘seams‘ contribute to the meaning, evoking the lines on a geographer‘s globe. suggesting ‘the

l objective mapping of a surface which

contains within it subjective experience. a fugitive state of being‘: the complexity ofhuman relationships in Fold or Landing. our imperfect grasp of abstract notions oflight/dark and time in 12 Hours: The Beginning. The Middle. The End.

The ‘drawn‘ lines also lend a diagrammatic quality. recalling illustrations to Medieval and Renaisssance scientific. alchemical or occult writings which inspire Gormley. Further allusions to mummies or figures in winding sheets. Egyptian scribe carvings or angels universalise Gormley‘s sculptures. lifting them out of

present time and the confines of Western culture. Brought up a Catholic and educated by Benedictine monks. Gormley also studied Buddhist meditation and his work is spiritual rather than ‘Religious‘. ‘The art that moves me most is that which is aware of its ‘sacred‘ function; by that I mean the idea of art as a vehicle for connecting us with things that in the everyday workings ofour life are maybe not available.

Art is to Gormley a means of retreiving the self. of ‘discovering our identity in a world always trying to sell us an image ofourselves; advertisers want us to identify with an object like a BMW as a kind of talisman for who we are.‘ He offers literally empty vessels as ‘tools for selfawareness‘. for us to fill with ou1 ; own meanings. so becoming aware ' ofan inner response. offeeling. For (iormley ‘the imaginative response of the viewer is as important. if not more important. than the work itself.‘

A ntony Gormley 's sculptures are exhibited at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Edinburgh. 1 until 29 May. See A rt Listings. ;

6'1‘ht7issi 5 ~18 May 1989