Look East
Cornwall Life|November 2020
Look across the water at the South West’s latest resident: Sir Antony Gormley’s Look II
Su Carroll

There’s no ignoring the work of renowned British sculptor Antony Gormley, whose towering Angel of the North has dominated the skyline near Gateshead for over two decades. Or the 100 cast iron figures of Another Place standing sentry on a beach near Liverpool. Visitors to the Tate St Ives in 2001 were lucky enough to see an exhibition of his work including Field for the British Isles, a collection of hundreds of terracotta figures.

A Turner Prize winner, his creations fetch high prices at auction and create a stir wherever they appear.

The celebrate the opening of The Box, Plymouth’s new arts and heritage space, Sir Antony was commissioned to create something that would mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower. The result is LOOK II, 22 individual iron blocks cast in a single element – a twice life-sized figure looking out across Plymouth Sound towards the sea and the world beyond.

It celebrates the extensive labour and craftsmanship that goes into working with natural materials like iron and draws parallels between his practice and Plymouth’s legacy as a Naval city of international importance.

The singularity of the upright cast iron body evokes admiration for the skyscrapers of New York, while linking them to our megalithic past. Rather than sentimentalise or monumentalise the departure of the Mayflower in 1620, LOOK II expresses the tension between going and staying, and the twin human desires of making roots and a yearning for adventure.

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