Today marks the twenty-year anniversary of the installation of Antony Gormley’s work The Angel of the North. Gormley’s work is now iconic and the Angel is probably his most famous work. It is estimated to be seen by 33 million road and rail travellers every year or 90,000 drivers a day, which works out as more than one person every second.
The Angel, which Gormley has described as a ‘totem poll for the North East’, measures 20 meters high and 54 meters wide from wing tip to wing tip, and was made from corten weathering steel by the Teeside manufacturer Hartlepool Steel Fabrications. It sits on a hilltop overlooking the A1 motorway over what was formally a coal mine.
Despite its iconic status now, the project was initially greeted with hostility and doubt: not least of all by the artist himself who at first turned down the project saying, ‘I don’t do sculptures for motorways’. There was local opposition too; some locals claimed it would spoil the view alongside the usual voices that lamented the waste of the £800,000 it would eventually cost. read more »
A time there was, when I posted here regularly, that each week I compiled a set of Sunday links. I fell out of the habit, but now I am trying the new approach below. In eight categories I am listing up to five recommended links. I shall add to them as and when I feel like it, and when I post a new one, one of the others will drop off. New links from the most recent updating will be indicated, and I will sign off this introduction with the time and date when I last visited. There are other wrinkles to consider, but let’s first try this for a while.
These are the things that I’ve been reading and thinking about in the past few days… 06.55, 16 February 2017. read more »
It’s unlikely that anyone will have noticed, but whether about links or anything else I have not posted here for some six weeks. Moreover, my contributions in the months before that were, well let’s just say… sporadic. Maybe they are destined ever to remain so, but the run-up to Christmas looks less insanely busy and so my intention is to return here more often. Let’s see. But at least I can contribute today a new list of links to recent articles and videos that I have found interesting. With thanks, as always, to those who alerted me to many of these, whether on Twitter or in other ways.
I have just returned from a fascinating three-day trip to St Petersburg (of which more tomorrow), so the Links post is a day late [and still a bit of a work in progress]. In other respects it is much as I try (but too often fail) to do each week, highlighting things that have intrigued and interested me in recent days. My thanks as always to those who, on Twitter and elsewhere, alerted me to many of these.
• Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA: anyone fancy paying me to write about this remarkable new group of exhibitions in Los Angeles co-ordinated by the Getty Center? I’d love to go. This is the third Pacific Standard Time initiative, and on this occasion it’s ‘a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles’. Spread across 70 institutions, it also offers a good deal of fascinating stuff online, some of which I will focus on in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here is their trailer and a few initial press responses:
Much is being written about the truly extraordinary achievements of Sir Peter Hall, whose death at the age of 86 has been announced. Mark Lawson’s piece for the Guardian is already a highlight: deeply informed, admiring but far from uncritical. And Michael Billington’s obituary is here. I feel especially close to one strand of his work with the RSC, which he brought into existence in 1961, since I am writing a book about film and television adaptations of the company’s work. Soon after Peter Hall transformed the Stratford Memorial Theatre company into the RSC he was pushing for it to do television and a little later in the decade he was one of the key figures that led to the setting up an – ultimately unsuccessful – film partnership.
Even if some of the television broadcasts with which he was involved no longer survive, we do have – in large part thanks to Peter Hall – remarkably rich moving image traces of the RSC in the 1960s. And part of his legacy is a number of major adaptations, including a 1959 television (which was never broadcast) and a 1969 movie version of his Stratford production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a compelling version of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, and a television masterpiece, The Wars of the Roses (which we were thrilled to release on DVD last year). read more »
Opening later this month at Barbican Art Gallery is Basquiat: Boom for Real (21 September – 28 January) . The first substantial retrospective in this country of the work of Jean-Michael Basquiat, it is one the hot exhibition tickets of the autumn. Advance press is already offering some really good reads, a selection of which is included below (and which I’ll update over the coming weeks). Illuminations has a greater interest in this show than in most because in October 1985 we filmed with Jean-Michel in New York for our Channel 4 series State of the Art. You can purchase here a DVD of the 6 episodes of State of the Art (Jean-Michel is in the final programme), and we are also delighted to be distributing in this country Jean-Michel Vecchiet’s recent film biography of the painter, which is available here. All in all, the material we filmed back in 1985 has had quite an afterlife, with – for starters – extracts on view in the exhibition and a few frames in this Barbican trailer.
Links to articles that have intrigued, interested and informed me in the past week. Grateful thanks to all those who pointed me towards them, and apologies for not including more than this collective credit. I’ll start with one of the best, and best-written, pieces of political analysis of recent days..
People will still be reading Sexual Politics for generations, but I can’t say too emphatically that she was a terrific memoirist – Flying, Sita and The Loony Bin Trip are indelible exercises in emotional honesty that capture interior understanding of how betrayal, or sexuality or mental illness actually feels with a sensitivity that can be breathtaking to read.
This evening BBC radio, television and online present the Last Night of the Proms with soprano Nina Stemme (above) from the Royal Albert Hall. Although not for me. My reckoning is that I will get to the Last Night about 10 or 11 nights from now. For me, today is all about Prom 59: La Clemenza di Tito from Glyndebourne, which the Proms and the BBC presented on 28 August. Which is where I am in my more-or-less chronological journey through all of this year’s concerts. For thanks to the download capabilities of BBC Radio iPlayer I am listening to each and every one of the 2017 Proms concerts. This is the third year I’ve done this – and I cannot recommend the experience too strongly. read more »
Once more, I return to the blog with, I hope, sufficient energy to see us through at least part of the autumn. So to start with, as I’ve contributed in the past (even if not too often recently) here are recent links to articles and videos that I have found interesting. My thanks to all those who brought them to my attention. No Brexit and no Trump (or at least not much) this week, but Vietnam instead.
• Ken Burns and Lynn Novick tackle the Vietnam War: the new 10-part, 18-hour documentary series The Vietnam War – ‘carefully evenhanded’ in tone – begins screening on PBS in the States on 17 September; and it’s likely to be a highlight of the BBC schedules this autumn too – here’s an initial primer from Jennifer Schessler for The New York Times.