The sculptor behind the Angel of the North has branded the arts cuts in the region a “disaster” and said Michael Gove should be locked in one of his sculptures after failing to make art compulsory in his proposals for the overhauled of GCSEs.
Speaking at an exhibition of new works at the White Cube Bermondsey, Antony Gormley gestured towards Model, the largest sculpture he has ever made - an immersive, labyrinthine metal form which can accommodate 380 people - and said: “That Gove guy should come here, and we’ll lock him in Model and he can evolve a more imaginative approach as to what human consciousness is about.”
He pledged to write a letter to Gove today urging the education minister to make the arts an important part of the curriculum. “It seems clear we have to make the funds available for art rooms to continue to flourish in schools,” he said. “We should all fight as hard as we can to get creativity properly valued.”
This follows an appeal from institutions including the National Theatre, the British Museum and the Royal Shakespeare Company, led by the Tate, who wrote to Gove urging him to include the arts as one of the core subjects in the proposals for an English Baccalaureate.
Gormley said: “We have had a culture in this country of the most extraordinary arts schools, as well as music and drama and art in schools. We have to fight to maintain it, support it and grow it.”
The artist’s celebrated work includes the Turner Prize-winning work Field for the British Isles, made up of thousands of terracotta figures between three and 10 inches tall. He also put 31 life-size human figures across London’s skyline for the work Event Horizon.
His new exhibition in east London comprises sculptures that range from the small to the vast. The biggest, Model, was made with 100 tonnes of weathering sheet steel. The works were dubbed “both sculpture and building”.
“Who wants to just make money,” he concluded yesterday. “The thing is to make life and make it mean something. I’m just shocked, I don’t know how this Government can live with itself.”