Antony Gormley: Students concerned about 'phallic sculpture'

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Proposed sculptureImage source, Penwardenhale Architects/Imperial College London
Image caption,
Students say there is a possible "phallic interpretation" of the work, which is called Alert

Students at a London university say a proposed "phallic" sculpture by Sir Antony Gormley could "hurt the image and reputation" of the institution.

Imperial College London students say the 20ft (6m) piece, named Alert, looks like a man with an erect penis.

Gormley has described the figure as "balancing on the balls of the feet" and "surveying the world".

The artwork is set to be installed this summer at the university's campus in South Kensington, west London.

The newly made Dangoor Plaza will house the sculpture, says the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

Image source, Penwardenhale Architects/Imperial College London
Image caption,
The structure, seen here in an artist's impression, is the work of Angel of the North sculptor Sir Antony Gormley

The "abstract human figure" will be made out of steel and weigh 67 tonnes, according to a planning report.

Gormley, whose best-known work is the Angel of the North, said in a statement on the university website: "Through the conversion of anatomy into an architectural construction I want to reassess the relation between body and space.

"Balancing on the balls of the feet while squatting on its haunches and surveying the world around it, the attitude of this sculpture is alive, alert and awake."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Sir Antony Gormley is one of of the world's most famous sculptors

A university spokesperson said: "Sir Antony Gormley is one of the world's foremost living artists, and we are grateful to have been gifted one of his iconic sculptures."

But Imperial College Union, a body representing the university's students, argues that the artwork could "hurt the image and reputation of the college".

The union said: "While the artist's intended form may '[evoke our] community of scientific research' the phallic interpretation does not.

"The name Alert could also be understood as referring to the statue's phallus being erect."

Image source, Penwardenhale Architects/Imperial College London
Image caption,
The sculpture is set to be installed this summer

Kensington and Chelsea Council gave the university planning permission last year for the sculpture.

A report by council officers said: "The proposed works are acceptable from a design perspective and would preserve the special architectural and historic interest, character and significance of the listed building and the character and appearance of the conservation area.

"Furthermore, the works would not result in material harm to living conditions and it has been demonstrated that the proposals are unlikely to unduly affect surrounding trees."

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