I had wanted to visit Anthony Gormley’s “Another Place” for some time but without much sense of what such a visit might be like. As a work set over a large expanse of landscape, minimal in its appearance and relying on a mastery of space and scale for its effect, before you see the work in person its impact really isn’t obvious.
The statues in question are familiar 6 foot 2 inches tall cast iron, simple models of the artists’ own naked body, here scattered along the long sandy beach at Crosby looking out to sea. The rawness and simplicity of the works first strike you when you come up close. You can connect with their stature, textures and heavy strength. But with the iron figures scattered over a two-mile area your relationship with the piece is necessarily time-based. At first, a tentative outsider, we begin to wander amongst the figures, touching them, examining them, familiarising ourselves with their quirks. What initially appear as an army of identical statues reveal themselves to be individuals with their own idiosyncrasies- some rusted by the tides, others with worn and delicate ankles, some sunken, some raised, and others whose features are all but obscured by parasitic crustaceans. Each man has his own personal histories.
Like some of the best examples of late 1960’s Land Art, the powerful dramatic interventions of Robert Smithson, Denis Oppenheim or Michael Hiezer, this piece pays a tribute to the natural environment in which it is situated. Due to the very shallow nature of the beach, the tide moves quickly across the sand and the area moves from completely exposed to completely underwater in a matter of hours. One figure you’ll be examining will be steeped in water at a moments notice. Gormley’s work though, offers a more contemplative, human interaction with nature than its predecessors. After examining the characters of the individual figures, we eventually find ourselves staring out to sea towards other sunken members of the group, finally participating in the same contemplative stance as the figures themselves. Gormley’s piece touches on that age-old urge to stand and stare into the abyss, to glimpse a vision of the sublime.