Antony Gormley’s ‘A View, A Place’ – where is it now? We now know!

Historic England’s exhibition, ‘Out There: Our Post-War Public Art’, which has just opened at Somerset House, London, highlights the fates and fortunes of sculptures and reliefs created and installed across the country over the last 70 years. Whilst some have been saved, celebrated and are widely loved, many pieces of our public art have been lost, damaged, moved or destroyed.

To prepare for the exhibition, Historic England put out an appeal for information on missing or unidentified works, and received a much greater response than they anticipated. With the help of organisations such as the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (partners in our Your Sculpture project) Historic England has tracked down works that had previously been thought to be lost forever.

I was recently told about a missing sculpture last seen in Stoke-on-Trent in the 1980s. Antony Gormley’s sculpture ‘A View, A Place’ was one of a number of art works sited at the Stoke-on-Trent National Garden Festival, which was held in the city from 1 May to 26 October 1986. ‘A View, A Place’, a life-sized lead, fibreglass and plaster statue, was positioned at the Festival’s highest point looking out over the Fowlea Valley, next an OS trigonometry marker-stone.Gormley_Sheffimage

In the following image you can just see the statue on top of the hill, provoking interest from visitors to the Garden Festival. Other sculptures can be seen in the pond in the foreground.

Gormley at The National Garden Festival 1986 . A View A Place

Apparently, after the festival had closed, the statue was removed from its position, but its current whereabouts are unknown. There is no mention of the sculpture on Antony Gormley’s website. The site is now completely enclosed by woodland, although the OS marker stills remains.

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Update (9 September 2016): I am very happy to say that I have been contacted by Vivien Lovell who was the Sculpture Co-ordinator for the Stoke-on-Trent National Garden Festival in 1986 and commissioned the Antony Gormley ‘A View, a Place’ amongst many other artworks. Vivien reports that the sculpture ‘was damaged towards the end of the Festival and returned to Antony when the Festival ended. The hollow eyes of the lead sculpture had become distended by people poking their fingers into the work. I photographed the damage and sent slides to Antony and he and I agreed that the sculpture should be de-installed and returned to him at his studio. … The work in question by Antony Gormley was not a purchase commission for permanent installation: the artist was paid a facility fee to create the work as a temporary piece on the basis that it was returned to him after the Festival.’ Antony Gormley has confirmed with Vivien that the sculpture was returned to him at the time and is still in his storage.

Many thanks to Vivien for this most useful update.

Some of the other artworks from the National Garden Festival still exist and have been re-sited around the City:

Her Head_DhruvaMistry_Stoke

Her Head, 1986, by Dhruva Mistry, now installed in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. Commissioned for the National Garden Festival in 1986 with funds from the Henry Moore Foundation, then donated to the City of Stoke-on-Trent in 1987.

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Capo, 1986, by Vincent Woropay, now installed in Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent. This colossal brick head of Josiah Wedgwood was in storage for many years before being repositioned in 2009. It is now sited by Etruria Hall, previously the home of Josiah Wedgwood and close to the location of his 1769 pottery factory. Etruria Hall (which can be seen in the background) is now part of a hotel.

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Tree Thought, 1986, Denise de Cordova, now installed in the Secret Garden at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. Made from Ancaster Stone, a Jurassic oolitic limestone, about 170 million years old, from Lincolnshire.

Image credits, from top to bottom:

By SleafordSue (via English Wikipedia) – Uploaded at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9741722

Image taken by Dave Ball, 1986. ©Sheffield Hallam University http://public-art.shu.ac.uk/other/0000008b.htm

Image taken by ©Terry Woolliscroft, 1986, and reproduced with kind permission of the copyright holder

Image taken by ©Glen Stoker, 2012. http://glenstoker.co.uk/index.php/work/once

Images of Her Head, Capo and Tree Thought by Katey Goodwin, 2015.

 

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Top Five Public Sculptures: Stoke-on-Trent

Just choosing five favourite public sculptures in Stoke-on-Trent barely scratches the surface of the public art and monuments spread across the City. Walk or drive around any of the six towns and you’ll encounter both traditional and contemporary sculptures. New works seem to appear regularly.

The latest addition to the city is Golden, a 21ft-high, steel artwork covered in 1,500 glass balls and internally lit by LED lights. Taller than the Angel of the North, it will be seen for miles around. It was installed in May 2015, but its official opening and switching-on ceremony will take place this summer. I’ll wait to see it all lit up before I decide whether it makes it into my top five.

This is very much a personal top five list. If there are other public sculptures in Stoke-on-Trent that you particularly like, feel free to let us know what they are and why you like them.

Privilege_DenisOConnor_Stoke5. Privilege, Denis O’Connor, 2005, Cavour Street and Etruria Old Road

This 9m-high, stainless steel sculpture represents the pottery and steel industries, which used to flourish in Etruria before their demise, and the National Garden Festival, which was held in the area in 1986. Sited by the busy A53, the work is seen by an estimated 30,000 motorists each day. I see it on a regular basis from the car, but have only walked up to it once, to take this photograph on one of the wettest days I’ve ever experienced. Even in a hail storm it looked very impressive.2015-06-03 12.51.19 HDR-1Award-winning sculptor Denis O’Connor has another large public art work in the City, Tree Stories (above), which was created with community involvement to celebrate the local mining industry. Sited in Hanley, this work has also been placed next to a busy road and is seen by thousands of people every day.

Woropay_6_15Jan154. Hand with Chronos, Vincent Woropay, 1990, Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station

I have written about this sculpture before, as its current location does not do it justice, being sited at the far end of platform 2 at Stoke Railway Station where few people venture. If you make the effort to look at it close up, rather than from a moving train, you can see the fingerprints and lines on the hand, as well as the chronos in its palm.

Wedgwood 23. Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795), Edward Davis, 1863, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent

Probably the best known of the Staffordshire potters (from being good at marketing, as well as his ceramic-making skills), Josiah Wedgwood greets visitors as they leave Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station. He is seen holding his ceramic copy of the Portland Vase, the 1st-century Roman glass vase in the British Museum.2015-05-27 09.32.57 HDR-1Another, more contemporary sculpture of Wedgwood (above), by Vincent Woropay, was created in 1986 for the National Garden Festival. This brick head was in storage for many years before being repositioned in 2009. It is now sited by Etruria Hall, previously the home of Josiah Wedgwood and close to the location of his 1769 pottery factory. Etruria Hall, which can be seen in the background, is now part of a hotel.

A Man Can't Fly_42. A Man Can’t Fly, Ondre Nowakowski, 1989, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent

Sited next to a busy road junction in the City’s University Quarter and close to the railway line, this figure standing on one leg and trying to fly is apparently there to remind us that that ‘we are in too much of a rush to do too much for most of the time’. I pass it on the way to the station, usually whilst worrying if I’ll find a space in the car park, so it’s a message I probably should take on board.A Man Can't Fly_5Ondre Nowakowski works as a full-time freelance artist, has exhibited widely and has works held in public collections, including numerous large scale public art works in the UK.

Her Head_DhruvaMistry_Stoke1. Her Head, Dhruva Mistry, 1986, Gilman Place, Old Hall Street, Hanley

Most of the buildings around Gilman Place are boarded up in advance of development of the area, so this beautiful sculpture’s surroundings do not currently do it justice. This might have been a busier thoroughfare when the work was placed here in 1988, but I do wonder how many people see it. It’s not easily seen by car either, as its back faces the busy city centre ring road.

Dhruva Mistry was born in 1957 in Gujarat, India, and has art works held in major public collections in the UK, India and Japan.'Her_Head'_by_Dhruva_Mistry,_Harris_MuseumThe Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, owns another version of Her Head (above), this one in plaster and shellac. You can also see an oil painting by Mistry on Your Paintings.

 

Further information on Stoke-on-Trent’s public sculpture:

Stoke-on-Trent Sculpture Trail

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association has produced a book on Staffordshire and the Black Country in their Public Sculpture of Britain series, published by Liverpool University Press.

All images by Katey Goodwin, apart from the image of Her Head at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston: by Rept0n1x (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons