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Antony Gormley gets crafty

6 February 2021

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

With exhibitions on hold across the UK, Antony Gormley has spied an opportunity. Discussing his latest project, ‘The Great Big Art Exhibition’, in an interview with Jon Snow on Channel 4 News, Gormley said: ‘With all our galleries and all our museums shut, we no longer have to be the passive recipients of other people’s imaginations.’ His aim is to encourage people across the country to make artworks at home, to display them in their windows or the garden, out of whatever comes to hand – ‘that old ironing board, that old carpet roll, that old flower pot, put them together and make something!’ And he’s evidently practicing what he preaches – throughout the interview, Gormley sat in his studio crafting a rather handsome dog out of what appeared to be that most humble of art materials: modelling clay.

Digging out his own long-neglected plasticine, Rakewell has been transported back to childhood days of crafting stegosaurs and spaceships with prolific energy – but also, perhaps especially, to the many hours spent watching (and attempting to emulate) that pioneer of children’s art television, Tony Hart, with his clay sidekick, Morph.

No doubt Gormley, in his push for public creativity, is on some level channelling the spirit of Hart; ‘The Great Big Art Exhibition’ is reminiscent of ‘The Gallery’, a regular feature on Hart’s shows, in which he displayed and discussed artworks sent in by children across the country. But all of this has led Rakewell to wonder whether Hart’s influence on Gormley’s own sculpture may not, in fact, be rather more direct….

Angel of the North photo: Mike Peel; Morph photo: sketchfab (both published under a Creative Commons licence, CC-BY-SA-4.0)