The Turner Prize winning sculptor Sir Antony Gormley has backed the Mander Hepworth campaign against Royal Bank of Scotland in the Wolverhampton public sculpture sell-off row. The artist has given his backing to the campaign to save the Barbara Hepworth sculpture Rock Form (Porthcurno), removed from the Mander Centre, Wolverhampton, by owners RBS and Delancey.
His message of support says: “It is clear that the work was made and sold at cost price by the artist in order for it to be shown and enjoyed collectively by the people of Wolverhampton. It was made for this site and should be considered site-specific: it belongs to the building and the building is there to serve the citizens. There is, in this monetarist time, an assumption that “common good” can be trumped by the values of a liberalised economy; let us hope you can change that assumption here”.
“Barbara Hepworth is a great artist of concentrated purpose and formal vigour. Her work energises the places in which it is placed. There is no doubt that, irrespective of the ownership of the building, the work should be replaced and continue to give joy to those who pass through the Mander Centre.”
Sir Antony Gormley OBE is a Turner Prize winner and Britain’s best known sculptor. His most popular public work is Angel of the North at Gateshead.
To recap the story, a cast bronze sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, removed from the Mander Shopping Centre in Wolverhampton last June has created controversy. The work of art has been located in the centre since it opened in 1968. It is one of six castings of this important 1964 work of art. Hundreds of people have now backed a campaign spearheaded on Facebook to return the Hepworth to its key position at the centre.
Titled Rock Form, the bronze is thought to be worth several million pounds. The Mander Centre is up for sale and campaigners fear there are plans to sell the sculpture at auction. The Royal Bank of Scotland who co-own the building with Delancey stated that they were currently looking for ways of reintegrating the work of art so it would be available to the people of Wolverhampton.This does not mean that the sculpture will return to the shopping centre where it has been enjoyed by thousands of people since the 1960s
A spokesperson for the Bring Back The Mander Hepworth campaign told Artlyst, ” Delancey & RBS haven’t actually said that they’re looking at ways to reintegrate the bronze at the Mander Centre, from where they removed it; they say they’re looking at options to “make it available” to the people of Wolverhampton, which isn’t the same thing at all, could mean almost anything and probably means nothing. There might, hypothetically, be a viable “second best” option, but at the moment the campaign needs to continue to press for the restoration of the bronze to the location where it has been for half a century, and where it belongs. There’s absolutely no reason on earth why Delancey & RBS can’t give that assurance, except that they choose not to”.
Join the Bring Back The Mander Hepworth campaign Here