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Gormley sculpture

New Antony Gormley sculpture installed in Newcastle

Published on: 26 July 2018

A brand new sculpture by celebrated artist Antony Gormley has been installed in the heart of Newcastle University’s campus.

Balance of form and feeling

The sculpture, called Clasp, is generously being loaned to the University by the artist and is located on King’s Walk, between the Students’ Union building and Northern Stage.

The 4.5-metre-high cast iron sculpture is an translation of two bodies holding each other and is part of the artist’s ‘Blockwork series’, in which blocks replace anatomy with architectonic volumes using stacking, cantilever and propping to make a sculpture that juggles the dynamic and the stable, creating a balance of form and feeling. 

Inspiration comes from architectural structures, including the Cyclopean walls of Mycenae, the Trilithons of Stonehenge, and the buildings of Mies van der Rohe. These essential forms of architecture translate through modernism into a structure in which each piece plays its part in a whole where dead weight becomes active. 

The new sculpture is formed of 18 individual blocks and cast as one single element in Spheroidal Graphite iron. The surface colour of the new sculpture will naturally evolve over time as an organic response to environmental conditions, gradually transforming into a red oxidised finish.

Antony Gormley states: “Two stacks of blocks find mutual support and together, they make a concentrated, single sculpture that is both body and building.”


Antony Gormley, CLASP, 2018, digital rendering of installation. Image courtesy of the Gormley Studio

Celebrated artist

Best known in the north of England for the Angel of the North in Gateshead and Another Place at Crosby Beach in Liverpool, Antony Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994 and the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999. His sculptures are now to be found in museums, in collections, and in permanent sites all over the world.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Newcastle University in 2004, and in 2015 the University’s Hatton Gallery held the ‘Space Stations’ exhibition, showcasing some of his drawings from 2002 – 2014, which reveal how drawing and sculpture have been in continuous dialogue throughout his career.

Professor Eric Cross, Dean of Cultural Affairs, Newcastle University, said: “Public art can stimulate conversation and enrich our surroundings.  The scale of this striking work and its prominent position will create a new focal point on campus, and give an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with others and our environment.” 


Art on campus

Clasp is the latest addition to Newcastle University’s successful Art on Campus programme which aims to showcase art by leading artists, as well as graduates, students and staff from the University.

It joins existing public artworks at the University, including the bronze statue of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, which was unveiled in November 2017, the Grade II-listed Spiral Nebula by noted post-war sculptor Geoffrey Clarke, and Generation – a group of three large sculptural heads created by Joseph Hiller, a graduate of Newcastle University’s internationally renowned Fine Art department, as well as other works distributed around the estate.

A new website launched this week provides a guide to all of the public art on the Newcastle University estate, along with iconic buildings and outdoor spaces around the campus. The online guide is aimed at anyone visiting the University campus, including visitors to the Great Exhibition of the North.

Clare Rogers, Director of Estates, said: “It is very fitting that in the 20th anniversary year of the Angel of the North, we have the opportunity to host a sculpture by Sir Antony on campus. Our programme of public sculpture at the University is very significant, as art provides the physical embodiment of culture at a place of learning and creates a destination. Clasp can be seen as symbolic of the university and learning in many ways and we are honoured that Sir Antony created the sculpture for us.”


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