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Laurence Inman’s Blog

GORMLEY – OR GORMLESS?

09-07-2009

Iron Man

Antony Gormley who designed the Iron Man in Birmingham’s New Street is the “creative force” behind the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, which is currently being filled by an army of ordinary people. Laurence Inman is unimpressed.

I quite like the work of Antony Gormley.

I’ve always liked the Iron Man. He looks as though he’s just forced himself up out of the ground. Instead of a neat concrete base there should be a pile of smashed paving stones around him to reinforce this impression. Then you could do a good bit of inanimate-object-ascribing; he’s the first iron man out of the tunnel, surprised that he hasn’t come up beyond the perimeter wire.

I’ve gone right off Gormley’s other famous creation, the Angel of the North. I now think it is a pile of pretentious toss. Why does the north need an angel? What does the imaginary angel do (in our minds?) Is it/she placed at some significant point of historical importance, an ancient border perhaps?

Probably not. And anyway, it wouldn’t matter.

The naked men on the beach somewhere....well, okay, fairly interesting, for a few minutes, ten at most, has the cricket started yet.....

But this business with the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square is now getting seriously on my nerves.

You couldn’t devise a better example of early 21st century ‘touchy-feely’ sentimental crap if you tried. The same was true of the previous attempt to fill the plinth: the naked thalidomide victim.

And what happened to the meek, boyish Jesus who stared longingly down Whitehall, his arms held behind his back? Too dangerous probably.

City statues are not there to commemorate. They are especially not there to make a point about anything.

Statues of people we think we know are very suspect. That one of Churchill, for instance, makes him look like a visionary colossus, whereas we know he was a podgy little man, more often drunk than sober. There’s more than a hint of Nazi Germany or present-day North Korea about it.

The one of Nelson in London can’t be properly seen: it’s not about him. Our Nelson is an attempt to present the essence of Romanticism, not naval supremacy.

The whole point of statues is their aesthetic appeal and the impression they help to give of an established, surveying authority in the midst of urban chaos.

They’re better, in fact, if their original subjects are completely unknown.

In London and Edinburgh, the most imposing and pleasing statues turn out to be of some long-forgotten seventh Duke or Fartshire, who died in 1786 and did nothing all his life but drink brandy and beat his family up. But there he stands in the mist of an early autumn evening, gazing forever at the same spot in the middle distance.

And another thing: let’s stop throwing up these monstrosities outside football grounds all over the country.

Either that or give everybody one.

I’ll have mine in my famous number 6 shirt outside Barlestone St Giles cemetery end making my trademark gesture to the referee.

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