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Antony Gormley review: Artist pushes the boundaries of the Royal Academy with his huge sculptures

Matrix III is one of the highlights of the Antony Gormley exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts

Antony Gormley is one of Britain’s most famous living artists, with his sculpture career dating back 45 years. He tends to focus his creations on the human form – usually his own – with his latest exhibition attempting to raise our awareness of the bodies we inhabit.

'Body' and 'Fruit' by Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts

‘Body’ and ‘Fruit’

The artist’s new exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts has taken over 13 rooms, with Gormley molding and adapting the Georgian rooms to fit his large-scale installations. The Academy has had to get some of the rooms water-proofed and reinforced to support the weight of some of the pieces. The exhibition features work throughout the decades, including his rarely-seen, early pieces from the 1970s. Also on display are many of his sketchbooks so you can see the progression from idea to fruition as a physical sculpture.

Before even entering Burlington House, you could be forgiven for nearly tripping over the first Gormley piece – ‘Iron Baby’ (1999) – in the courtyard. The sculpture is a newborn baby curled up in a ball, apparently inspired by the artist’s daughter. A contrasting piece – the strength of its iron with the vulnerability we usually associated with newborns.

From the beginning of the exhibition, Gormley’s presence is everywhere. ‘Slabworks’ is a series of metal figures that many would associate with the artist due to the prominence of similar pieces across the country. The shapes lie, stand and sit in various directions and contortions. Nearby is ‘Mother’s Pride’, a recent recreation of an old piece made out of white bread. A man’s (presumably Gormley’s) silhouette has been eaten out of the bread, with the natural expiration of the material displaying an evident reason why it had to be recreated for this year’s exhibition. Read the rest of this entry

Seven Dials’ final Artist’s Artist Project highlights the importance of mental health

Lee Kay Barry’s Count to Four is the third and final piece in the Seven Dials’ The Artist’s Artists Project

The third and final installation for the Artist’s Artist Project has been unveiled in Seven Dials. ‘Count to Four’ by Lee Kay Barry is a thought-provoking piece to support World Mental Day 2019. The London-based artist hopes his work will help raise awareness of the importance of talking about mental health.

The Artist’s Artist Project launched in January 2019 and sees each participating artist nominating another artist for the successive installation. It was kick-started by Iona Rowland and her Agatha Christie piece, who then went on to choose Rene Gonzalez‘s ‘At the Entrance of Seven Obscure Passages’, which was displayed over the summer. Each piece will be auctioned for charity following display.

This latest artwork features four people in a living room with one of the group depicted in the colour blue and clearly looking overwhelmed. The colour blue is often linked to mental health, with people complaining of “feeling blue” or “suffering from the blues”.

  • ‘Count to Four’ by Lee Kay Barry is on show now until the end of 2019 at the junction of Shorts Gardens and Neal Street, WC2. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this November, click here.

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Olafur Eliasson – In Real Life review: An interactive, sensory journey through colours and tricks

Your Uncertain Shadow by Olafur Eliasson at the Tate Modern

One of the most popular art exhibitions in London this year has been Olafur Eliasson at the Tate Modern. His ‘In Real Life’ exhibition invites visitors to interact with and change their environments. I previously saw his giant sun for his Weather Project installation in the Tate’s Turbine Hall 16 years ago and really loved it. I had seen clips of what to expected on Instagram so went along to pay a visit to In Real Life last month.

His series of installations allow you to become more aware of your senses and the space around you. Some were playful and entertaining, while others were confusing or even headache-inducing. Many used reflections, shadows and light to change your perception of your reality. One of the first pieces you come across is ‘Moss Wall’ – a huge wall of Icelandic reindeer moss which invites you to reach out and touch.

We moved on to ‘Beauty’ – an indoor rain room with light trickery creating flickers of rainbow colours with the water appearing to ‘dance’ in front of you. A similar sensation came from ‘Your Spiral View’ – a moving installation which allows people to walk through a giant kaleidoscope with mirrors bouncing the light off as it rotates.

Your Blind Passenger

One of the most popular pieces was ‘Your Uncertain Shadow’, a colourful projection of shadows allowing you to see multiple versions of yourself. I thought it was a clever and fun piece, although at times the room was so busy the colourful shadows weren’t as fluid as you would hope. Read the rest of this entry

Photo Friday: The Ship of Tolerance for Totally Thames

Frieze Sculpture 2019: Step into Regent’s Park outdoor gallery of contemporary art

Anniversary of Seven Dials’ Sundial Pillar marked in new artwork

Rene Gonzalez Seven Dials art © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

At the Entrance of Seven Obscure Passages by Rene Gonzalez in Seven Dials

A new piece of art is on show in Seven Dials to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the district’s famous sundial pillar. ‘At the Entrance of Seven Obscure Passages’ by Rene Gonzalez is the latest installation for the Seven Dials’ The Artist’s Artist Project and was unveiled in May 2019.

The Artist’s Artist project features the showcased artist nominating another for a new installation. Iona Rowland nominated Gonzalez and two other artists following the display of her Agatha Christie piece earlier this year. A panel of Shaftesbury representatives and Seven Dials stakeholders then select the winning artwork. Following display, the piece will be donated to charity.

Gonzalez’s art not only pays tribute to the sundial, but also the rich history of the area. Politician and project manager Thomas Neale (1641-1699) – who designed the Seven Dials estate – is featured in the image, alongside Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, who unveiled the reconstruction of the sundial monument for The Seven Dials Trust in 1989.

  • ‘At the Entrance of Seven Obscure Passages’ is on show until September 2019 at the junction of Shorts Gardens and Neal Street, WC2. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in July, click here.

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Sculpture in the City 2019/2020: Free art exhibition returns to London

Photo fun for music-loving ‘grammers with ‘Massive Choon’ art installations at Wembley Park

Wembley Park unveils art commissions Massive Choon by Baker & Borowski
© Chris Winter / Wembley Park

Are you guilty of doing things just “for the ‘gram”? If so, a visit to Wembley Park could be in order. This summer, a series of public art installations have been unveiled, providing plenty of photo opportunities for your social media.

‘Massive Choon’ is a project from Baker & Borowski, the duo behind Produce UK and Skip Gallery. The giant, interactive 2D and 3D music-themed creations include a neon guitar and amp; turntable; drumkit; microphone; boombox and headphones. Visitors to Olympic Way, Market Square and Wembley Boulevard can interact with the art by peering through them or sitting or standing on them. The installation celebrates Wembley’s musical heritage, with the nearby Stadium and Arena having hosted some of the world’s biggest artists and bands over the decades.

The installation is one of a series of events taking place in Wembley Park over the summer, including ‘Summer on Screen’ outdoor film screenings, theatre, shopping and a one day music festival – the International Busking Day on 20 July.

  • ‘Massive Choon’ is on display now and all summer at Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in September, click here.

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Gaze up at the ‘Lunch Break’ angels for the London Festival of Architecture

A look at the Summer Exhibition 2019 at the Royal Academy of Arts