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The nude Archimedes making trouble in Hampshire

25 April 2017

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

Large male nudes have a knack for turning heads – even when said heads are supposed to be keeping an eye on the road. In 2009, a survey by motor insurance firm Esure found that the chalk figures of Dorset (which include the giant of Cerne Abbas) and Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North in Gateshead (modelled on the artist’s own body) were supposedly responsible for causing distractions, near misses and even accidents.

In the latest such instance, a resident of the Hampshire village of Ellisfield is up in arms about a nude sculpture of Archimedes. The nine-foot likeness of the great inventor and mathematician was installed by businessman Adrian de Ferranti, who decided to show it off by having it lit up in the dark. However, no sooner was it in place than his neighbour was on to the local council, complaining about Archimedes’ indecency.

‘This statue is illuminated at night and as such is both a potential distraction for drivers of vehicles driving down College Lane and again completely inappropriate in a rural area in my opinion’, Steven Gould lamented. ‘The very nature of the statue (a naked man) may seem to represent art to some but could also be seen as offensive to others.’

‘Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth’, Archimedes supposedly said as he demonstrated the law of the lever. His likeness – complete with lever – certainly has the good folk of Hampshire swivelling their heads.

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