Arise Sir Antony Gormley! The Turner Prize winning Angel of the North sculptor has been awarded a Knighthood for services to the Arts, in the 2014 Queen’s New Years honours list. The 63 year old said he was “very humbled, but also delighted,” and accepted his honour as “a recognition” for the art form.
An OBE was also awarded to the innovative 2010 Turner Prize winner Susan Philipsz, whose work is less about a superficial visual appearance and more about the processes of swimming in the experience of sound.
Antony Gormley is internationally renowned for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. His work has developed through a critical engagement with both his own body and those of others in a way that confronts fundamental questions of where human being stands in relation to nature and the cosmos. Gormley continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise.
The seeds of these two defining features of Gormley’s practice were first sown in the 1970s, when he famously almost became a Buddhist monk – to the point of studying Buddhist philosophy and meditation in India. Speaking about this time in his life, Gormley explains his decision to pursue a career in art as follows: “In the late sixties and early seventies there were a lot of Westerners around, trying to wear alternative clothing and find a different cultural context, but I did not want to escape my own history. I was more interested in bringing something into the home mix. In the end, I felt that it was my responsibility to try to come back to Britain to fulfill some kind of creative role and maybe bring what insight I had arrived at in India back into that stream of development.”
Gormley’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the UK and internationally with exhibitions at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Rio di Janeiro and Brasilia (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2012); The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2007); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (1993) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1989). He has also participated in major group shows such as the Venice Biennale (1982 and 1986) and Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany (1987). Permanent public works include the Angel of the North (Gateshead, England), Another Place (Crosby Beach, England), Inside Australia (Lake Ballard, Western Australia) and Exposure (Lelystad, The Netherlands). Gormley was also awarded the Fourth Plinth commission in 2010, creating ‘One and Other’ a space where every hour for several months different people could use the plinth as a platform for just about anything.
Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994, the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999 and the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture in 2007. In 1997 he was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE). He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, an Honorary Doctor of the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge. Gormley has been a Royal Academician since 2003 and a British Museum Trustee since 2007.
Photo: © P C Robinson Artlyst 2009