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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  November 5, 2020 12:30am-1:01am GMT

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to the white house with results still due from some key states. but there's a bitter battle over how long they should go on counting postal votes. the trump campaign has launched legal action to stop vote counting in michigan, pennsylvania and georgia — accusing democrats of scheming to disenfranchise republican voters. mr trump's campaign has also called for a recount in wisconsin saying there had been reports of irregularities. the democrats‘ hopes of making big gains in the us congressional elections have so far failed to materialise. they're expected to remain in control of the house of representatives, but with a reduced majority. now on bbc news.
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it's time for hardtalk. welcome to a special edition of hardtalk from the workshop studio of britain's best known, most successful sculptor, sir antony gormley. now, even if you don't know his name, you may well have seen his work, because his monumental pieces, put in prominent positions in outdoor spaces, have become some of the world's most famous examples of public art. his inspiration is the human body, in fact, his own body. so what is his work telling us about his relationship with the world around him?
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antony gormley, thank you so much for inviting us into your studio. i said studio, but it actually feels like a workshop, doesn't it? i think it's a factory. it's a place where we make things. and things are being made and tested the whole time. very nice to have you. throughout your career, you have focused on the human form, the body, but not so much representative art, more trying to say something else about the body, try to explain that. for me, in the history, certainly, in western art, the body has been always thought of as a representation — usually of a hero or of a sexy woman. and i'm more interested in the idea of the body as the place we live, our primary habitation.
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so with something like this, i guess, i'm applying to the body, in a sense, the spaces that we usually encounter outside of us as our architectural context. and yet here it is, these open cubes used to both activate but also inhabit a human space in space. it's always so interesting, looking at your work, that it inhabits a space that is actually the sort of space you inhabit, i mean, it's the same height as you. was this, like so much of your work, drawn from an initial sort of scan or impression of your own physical self? yes, absolutely. every body work starts from a capturing of a lived moment of human time. and i work with my own body as, in a way, the closest bit of the material world there is, to me, and, furthermore, i inhabit it.
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i can work on it from the inside, from what it feels like. and i think that's the radical, in a way, proposition of the work that here is something that starts, in a way, with experience, with a moment of captured being, rather than appearance and the distance between an artist and a model. i want to, if we may, just move around the studio workshop a little bit, because it gives me a sense of how you work. for example, here we got what i guess is a classic metal drill. a nice drilling, a pillar drill. we're very — we rely on bits of stuff like this. this is a bit of kit made in britain, probably in the mid—30s. this comes from the heartland of british engineering. but you know what's funny, the last time i saw a bit of kit like this was in a blacksmith‘s.
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and itjust strikes me that here you are, you know, the famous artist, but actually day to day you and your team are wielding tools, you're crafting materials... yeah, ithink... how do you — there's a sort of duality there, how do you do the sort of physical labour, the technical stuff, but also apply your imagination, your dreams to all of that? but i think that's what artists and art has always done, it's used the available materials and methods of making to, yeah, transform things, perhaps. this material, for example, is common to us. we see it in every bit of engineering, but now it's being used for something else. and i think the same is true of this. and this is where the drilling machine comes in, because there's probably 2000 holes that have been drilled in this which have then been riveted together, to the point where you actually
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know how this thing is put together at all. no, i wouldn't have a clue looking at it. but what i do know, looking at a lot of your work, is that there is an extraordinary work of labour in it and some of it is on a vast scale and i'm thinking now from being a struggling young artist in a small studio on your own to this vast sort of workshop that you've got with a team of people. how different does it feel now? i think that everything that begins and finishes here begins and ends with my engagement. so that part of it hasn't changed. i think that in the beginning it was me and vicken, my wife, who still works here in the studio. now this creative tribe, essentially, you know, there's about 20 of us, all of whom or the majority of whom are artists, they've got their own studios, we evolve this work together. and later on today we will be looking at the latest ideas for the next show,
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which will be in spring in paris, together and really juice it. one thing that strikes me as different, though, i know you said once that in the early days of your work you would end the day physically knackered, having been beating metal and mixing plaster all day, you went to bed exhausted. now, because you've scaled up and you do have this team with you, you don't have quite the same physical investment in each and every piece. and i just wonder if that changes — it sort of makes you more detached when you look at the work? i don't think i'm any more detached from the work. however, the confusion between emotional involvement and the amount of energy and effort has ceased. and i think i'm able to be considerably more demanding on the work and i think
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that is the result of two things. i think it's the result of experience, but also this thing of learning how to make, learning how to make things that cohere, learning how to things that will last a long time. i mean, many of the works that we make are cast. they usually take about 53 seconds or under 53 seconds to cast, from the latest and most fragile material to something that will last 1000 years. well, i'm very proud of that. and we've evolved that ability to manipulate material over the last a0 years. i say ‘we‘ now, because it isn'tjust me beating lead, it's me smelting iron at 1300 celsius. and a final thought for here, because i know we're going to talk more in your studio, but how easy is it for you to, as we sort of wander through and look at all
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of the materials and there's the vices and the drills and the work desks, and over here we've got all the sort of stray pieces of wood that you've used and there's, i know, stacks of metal rods all over, how easy is it for you, here, to imagine what your pieces are going to look like when they're in situ, so very far from this workshop, from central london, some of them end up in public spaces in cities, some end up on beaches and hilltops, how do you, in your mind, imagine the final result? i have to say, stephen, that the diagnosis of site is as important, in a way, that capturing a feeling in the body. and the best results come from a marriage between the two. so, i've just done a big show at the ra, we just spent four years trying to understand those volumes and what made them special, and obviously the most incredible thing that
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makes them special is their height and the fact that they're blessed with natural light. and that's what i tried to honour. i mean, basically i was attempting to energise these spaces and i think that a good exhibition, but also a good permanent placement of sculpture, is one in which you can't think of the place without the object and you can't think of the object without its site. what is expected of us as a viewer when looking at one of these things? well, i want to talk about that more... these are still objects that invite us to look around. yeah. yeah, think about how they're made. in fact, you were saying, it doesn't really — well, you can't appreciate what i'm trying to say unless you move around. no, exactly. and that is the mystery and magic of sculpture to me. here is this still, silent thing that encourages us to move. and in moving our bodies to move our minds.
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right. and i think, you know, in an age in which, you know, we live in a digital age, in a cyber society in which the appearance and images are so instant and so cheap and so instantly obsolescent, so what is it that sculpture gives you? it gives you a time and a place that is still. but you could argue that you are fighting against the spirit of the age. no, because these couldn't have been made without digital technology. ah, well, there's a twist to the tale. i want to take you back to the roots of your artistic sensibility. where would you place them? i suppose, you know, age six, at home in hampstead garden suburb, messing about with drawing and painting and immediately, i think, making things, and particularly making messes.
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and then, i guess, being taken by my dad to his favourite painting at the national gallery, which was piero della francesca's the nativity. because your dad was a real art lover. yeah, he was. it mattered to him. it mattered a lot. we... i mean — it was strange, we didn't have that many original paintings in the house, but we did have, you know, every reproduction of a fra' filippo lippi or fra angelico. the fra angelico annunciation was in my bedroom. interesting that you mention that, because there's a lot of religiosity in your family as well. i mean, a deep catholic faith and they sent you off to a catholic boarding school. and as a kid were you a believer? did you see yourself as... i think i was intensely engaged, if you like, in the imaginative promise of catholicism. so the idea of being in a state of grace or being in a state
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of sin was something that possessed me. and i used to have nightmares about the state of my soul. i would see this soul, it was like a great big damp thing with terrible kind of spots in it that would haunt me at night. it was, yeah, a terrifying thing, i think, to a young and imaginative person to have, as it were, the heaven and hell dialectic really kind of dumped on you. but then, when i look at your work, and what you say about it, and what you demand of your audience, your viewers, it seems to me that there's a different kind of sort of spiritualfeeling, it's much more contemplative, it demands silence and almost meditation. which makes me wonder, you know, did you move
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away from catholicism, and i know you spent some time in india, did you come close to embracing, i don't know, buddhism, that style of spirituality? absolutely. i found... if you just compare the two icons, the icon of the crucifixion, the body in suffering, and the icon of the buddha, the buddha in meditation, i think you have there a very good illustration of why i was drawn to buddhism. the idea that it isn't somebody else's horrendous and tortured death that is going to redeem you, it's you coming to terms with your own consciousness. and, yeah, certainly my time in india was absolutely critical to everything that i have done since. that experience, clearly, from the point of view of your contemplative character, was very important to you.
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you come back, you commit to art, you go to art school, remerge, start working but you are struggling. for quite a long time you really struggle to make ends meet. yeah, i mean, i didn't have a gallery in london until 1991. i didn't really show much in london until 1993, so it was...those early years were problematic. i was lucky enough i had a teaching position. i told taught two days a week at brighton college of art in the sculpture department and that was enough to live on. i just wonder whether there was a part of you that found the art world and commercialising your work and selling it, and in a sense selling yourself, quite difficult. your own brother — ijust noticed — your own brother had talked about this and he said, "my reading of what was happening was that he found it difficult having a marketing
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man controlling his work. he could have gone about his career very differently but he was adamant he wanted to be his own master and, in doing so, he was, in a way, uncommercial." was that true of you for a while? yeah, i think i was approached by galleries that i refused to work with because i felt that i was being made to perform in a culture industry, and i wanted the work to be exploratory. i also wanted it to be my project. i really am thankful for that. i have not been, as it were, assumed into the canon of whatever is fashionable and the work has been an evolution in itself. that is really interesting that you say you never sought or desired to be fashionable but, in a funny sort of way, you have become fashionable. these days, antony gormley projects are big news, and the major exhibition
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you havejust had in london, and sort of huge publicity, vast numbers of people went to see it, you are now extremely fashionable in a way. i am not sure i am fashionable. i am really encouraged by the response that the royal academy show has had. absolutely extraordinary to see how engaged people were and ijust... well, i am so thankful for the fact that i have not been, as it were, commodified and that, actually, that early instinct that i had that, rather than putting a work in a gallery, ijust wanted to put it by the seashore, in west wittering, you know, near my childhood kind of summer home, and see what it did and then see what it did for me and for other people walking by, and that is still to me, you do not
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need a gallery. it is an extraordinary thing. you make something, you put it in the world and you see what happens. that is so interesting about some of your most famous work — it is truly public art. whether we're talking about the angel of the north, which is more than 20 metres high and looms over the north—east of england, or whether we're talking about the amazing 100 strong group of men staring out to sea over crosby, in the north—west of england — this is public art. but i wonder what... who asked for art to be privatised ? why do we think of that as the norm for art? art is a gift. i am amazed that i am allowed to live the life that i live. i want to share it and art does not make any sense... but you have to compromise. if you are thinking to yourself, this is not art that people are going to pay to come see, make a choice about coming to see, it is just going to be there if they happen to be in the vicinity. do you have to compromise to make it appealed to the widest possible audience? no, i do it because
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i have to do it. i hope that it will make a connection with people. i hope that it does deal with the big issues, you know, body and space, life and death, darkness and light, really simple, these are the poles in which our consciousness resides. i want to engage people with that. there is no compromise. you have always said that you expect quite a lot from your viewers, your audience. you do not want art to be easy, you want it to actually be challenging and maybe even difficult. does that apply to everything you do? i mean, the angel of the north, for example, is that difficult? i think the angel of the north is a unique experiment. here is a community that has been told it has no future... the old post—industrial north—east of england.
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the end of coal mining and shipbuilding was dying and, in fact, within three years, swan hunter had closed. so the question that i asked myself was, is it possible to make a work that can be the focus of collective hope for the future? and yes, it is totemic. it goes to a premodern idea of an object. almost like a totem pole, that talks about the continuity of a community. it strikes me that, with the kind of recognition and popularity that came with angel of the north, and another place, the piece in merseyside on the seashore, you fell into that thing which seems to me sometimes happens to artists that, when they become really celebrated and awarded and everything else, there are critics who then say, they are bland, they have ceased to challenge, they have fallen into a trap
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of seeking popularity, when critics — and some do say that of you... there is an absolute difference between "popular" and "populist". the fact that people engage with my work, so far as i am concerned, is a tribute to its relevance. i think we live in a very strange world in which, in a way, the recondite in art has become sellable because its difficulty and uniqueness is somehow a selling point for certain areas of the market. i am not interested in those games at all. i think the space of art is precious to us in a time in which both religion and politics have failed in terms of allowing
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us to be contributors to a collective future. do you feel that some of your work maybe is getting increasingly political? personally, i looked at, for example, a couple of your works — the extraordinary image of those statues looking out to sea in merseyside and then the piece i think is called host, at the royal academy, with the seawater, an expanse of seawater put into the exhibition with a distance doorway but a sense of perhaps the sea flooding or inundating human creation. i read it as something that could be about sort of man's vulnerability to climate change, to changes around us. am i right? i mean, am i right to see sort of messages in some of the work? message i think is putting it too heavily. i wanted to bring the outside in. i wanted the primal, elemental conditions of life to be brought within the context of culture. here is the unformed, here is sea, mud and air presented — i removed all electricity
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from that room — and we were invited to have a relationship with that. ina digitalage, that is important. this is the place out of which we came and these are the elements that have fallen in the age of the anthropocene, into our hands as really those responsible for the future of this planet. it has never happened before that the activity of one species has destabilised the geological era of our time. and i think that there is, when i say, that the space of art becomes precious, i think that final room in the ra was just asking us to think about our position, think about our position in time and space and our responsibility to the future. in that sense, do you think art
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can deliver cultural, political change? can it change anything? i do not think it can deliver it, it can simply provide the space, the resonating chamber in which perhaps the will to be creatively responsible for, as it were, the future can arise. that is what i hope, that is what i believe that art's primary purpose is now. and i think the extraordinary thing that we have seen in the last 30 years is that britain has a somewhat resistant culture, primarily a literary culture, has blossomed into the most extraordinary and globally recognised visual culture, and i think that is because art is now dealing with life. it is dealing with not itself and its own language.
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the 20th century was a time of —isms, in which art celebrated in a way, its ability to speak many languages. i think the 21st century is the time in which art begins to really focus on life and its evolution. antony gormley thank you very much for inviting us into your studio. stephen, thank you for coming. it has been a real pleasure. thank you so much. hello there. it's pretty cold out there at the moment across more southern parts of the uk. wednesday started with some frost quite widely in england and wales. what followed was a generally dry and sunny autumn day. but, for scotland and northern ireland, we saw more cloud
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moving in during the afternoon and the evening. you can see that clearly on the satellite picture from earlier on. that cloud moving very slowly southwards. we actually have weakening weather front bringing some damp and drizzly weather and lowering the cloud onto the hills. but we've got high pressure across the south, this is where we've got the clearer skies and we've got those lower temperatures as well. milder in the north, but colder in the south. maybe some frost around for mid wales, midlands and southwards. notjust some frost, some mist and fog too. that's going to be dense in places in the morning. gradually through the morning that will tend to lift and break. may take a while in the home counties, mind you. then we get sunshine coming through. but, for north wales, northern england it looks quite cloudy, damp and misty over the hills. further north, we've got more of a breeze from the atlantic. that's significant. it's blowing in a lot of cloud but the cloud breaks to the east of the high ground in a bit of scotland. and a bit of warm, 15 or 16 degrees. elsewhere ten to 12. similar to what we had on wednesday. this time in the morning we've got much more
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mist and fog around. and into friday morning, again there will be dense patches of fog. again it's more likely for the midlands southwards. this time on friday that fog will tend to lift more readily. the breeze will pick up a little bit more and we should see sunshine developing. further north, some low cloud around, misty over the hills. cloud tending to thin, some sunshine coming through away from the northwest. the temperatures ten to 12 degrees again. a little bit milder perhaps towards the south east, but the winds are picking up in the far southwest. the wind direction is changing just in time for the weekend. that's going to be quite significant because that's going to draw up some milder air and push it very slowly northwards. instead of the high pressure that's keeping it quiet at the moment, it'll be quite cold. that's moving away towards continental europe. and lowering pressure from iberia means we've got the threat of some rain coming up from the south. maybe the odd shower around on saturday rain across northern and western areas on sunday. temperatures gradually rising. higher temperatures
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towards the south possibly up to 16 or 17 c.
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this bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. i'm mike embley. joe biden says he's on course to win the us presidency as the vote counting continues. i'm not here to declare that we have won but i'm here to report that when the counties finished, we believe we will be the winners. the trump campaign launches legal action to stop vote counting in michigan, pennsylvania and georgia — and wants a recount in wisconsin. and the democrats‘ hopes of making big gains in the us congressional elections fail to materialise.


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