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The curious incident of the dog on Gormley’s coastline

22 January 2016

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

Few, perhaps, would go so far as the Guardian’s art critic in describing Antony Gormley as a ‘lead toad’ squatting on the British art world. Nonetheless, nary a year passes without another giant public commission dwarfing our landscape. The BBC’s Will Gompertz recently went so far as to blame the creator of The Angel of the North for the surfeit of sub-standard public sculpture that has blossomed around Britain’s towns and cities since the 1990s.

But, as Rakewell is reliably informed by the Liverpool Echo, the artist still has the power to excite. Enter DJ, a 13-year-old springer spaniel described as ‘the dumbest dog ever’ by its owner. While out for a walk on Crosby Beach, the mutt dropped a stick in front of one of the 100 cast iron sculptures that make up Gormless’s permanent installation Another Place, in the expectation that the figure would be game for a round of fetch.

That the sculpture DJ had chosen as his playmate refused to play ball (or stick, or whatever it was) did not deter DJ, who persisted in running back and forth expectantly, each time dropping his bit of driftwood at the knees of Gormley’s figure. What the video of the momentous event shared by the Echo proves – about either artist or canine – is moot. Dull as some might find Gormley’s oeuvre, it seems there is at least someone who doesn’t find it entirely lifeless.

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