... a cheeky post ! *
We've been enjoying a short 'staycation' this past week. A holiday which has been all about visiting places within a thirty mile radius of our door that we had never visited before. Today we piled the whippets into the car and headed for the beach at Crosby, twenty-nine miles to the north. We wanted to see Antony Gormley's sculptural installation, Another Place ... 100 cast iron replicas of the artist's body that stand along the shore there, facing the sea. A beach party with a twist!
Each iron man wears a numbered wrist tag, matches Gormley's 6 foot plus height, and weighs in at 650 kg. Placed at irregular intervals along a two mile stretch of coast, many of the figures are completely submerged at high tide. Exposed to every kind of weather, to light, to salt water, to bird and barnacle, they have been textured by time, their contours blurred. Some, Ozymandias like, are half-buried in the sand.
It is not unusual for the iron men to be 'dressed' by those who come to see them. We found one with a mohawk and a goatee made of sand, another wearing a tatty plastic rain coat. In the past, we were told, they have been given balloons to hold, crowns of seaweed, sunglasses. But, knowing the affection many people feel for them, I was most struck by the friendship bracelet circling the wrist of number 81.
I had thought I might frame an arty intellectual response to Another Place, but frankly I'm struggling. I could write about the artist's use of the human body as motif - his own "particular and peculiar" body - or his fascination with the relationship between bodies and the spaces they occupy. But, unexpectedly, I was affected by the iron men emotionally, even viscerally. The figures look to new horizons - Gormley has talked of emigration and "the human need to imagine another life in another place" - but to the onlooker they seem more watchmen than potential wayfarers. They stand sentinel, and their presence is a hugely powerful one.
We were there at low tide in the late afternoon, the sun dropping into the sea. Next time we will visit when the tide is higher and the morning sun is at our backs, looking for another Another Place ! I wonder if the iron men have ever been yarn bombed? Do I dare, do you think?
Further reading on Gormley's work here.
*Sorry, I just couldn't resist!