Untitled [Listening] sculpture

Overview

Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1431374

Date first listed: 19-Jan-2016

Statutory Address: Maygrove Peace Park, London, NW6

Map

Ordnance survey map of Untitled [Listening] sculpture
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Location

Statutory Address: Maygrove Peace Park, London, NW6

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Greater London Authority

District: Camden (London Borough)

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Grid Reference: TQ2495784867

Summary

‘Untitled [Listening]’, a granite and bronze sculpture of 1983-84 by Antony Gormley, situated near the Brassey Road entrance to Maygrove Peace Park.

Reasons for Designation

The granite and bronze sculpture ‘Untitled [Listening]’, of 1983-84 by Antony Gormley, situated in Maygrove Peace Park, north London, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Artistic interest: an accomplished figurative sculpture whose subject, the universality of the human condition and the connection between interior and exterior worlds, is a key theme in Gormley’s work; * Historic interest: an artistic response to the peace movement at a time of heightened awareness of the threat of nuclear war; * Sculptor: an early public art work by this internationally-renowned sculptor.

History

The period after 1945 saw a shift from commemorative sculpture and architectural enrichment to the idea of public sculpture as a primarily aesthetic contribution to the public realm. Sculpture was commissioned for new housing, schools, universities and civic set pieces, with the counties of Hertfordshire, London and Leicestershire and the new towns leading the way in public patronage. Thus public sculpture could be an emblem of civic renewal and social progress. By the late C20 however, patronage was more diverse and included corporate commissions and Arts Council-funded community art. The ideology of enhancing the public realm through art continued, but with divergent means and motivation.

Visual languages ranged from the abstraction of Victor Pasmore and Phillip King to the figurative approach of Elisabeth Frink and Peter Laszlo Peri, via those such as Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth who bridged the abstract/representational divide. The post-war decades are characterised by the exploitation of new – often industrial – materials and techniques including new welding and casting techniques, plastics and concrete, while kinetic sculpture and ‘ready mades’ (using found objects) demonstrate an interest in composite forms.

Maygrove Peace Park in north-west London was planned in the early 1980s by Camden Council 'as a permanent reminder of the Council’s commitment to peace and its support for the policies of the Peace Movement' (cited in Gough 2007). The park was designed with Hugh Court, an architect and author of the book ‘Places of Peace’. Several sculptors were invited to submit proposals for works with a peace theme, and in autumn 1983 a shortlist of five (Hilary Cartmel, Judith Cowan, Stephen Cox, Anthony Gormley and Keir Smith) were asked to provide a maquette for a work that had to be 'robust, vandal-proof and be able to withstand the weather' (cited in Gough 2007). The winning entry was announced in early 1984.

The Peace Park was formally opened on 9 August 1984, on the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Gormley commented on the commission: 'Peace is not a political strategy. It is a state of mind and can only grow through our experience of it as points of being. The rock is part of the old deep history of the planet and is sculpted by time. The form of the mould is that of a listening man with a small hole that connects the inner space to the outer world' (Gough 2007). The sculpture was repaired and conserved in 2011 after being vandalised.

Sir Antony Gormley (b1950) is perhaps Britain’s most celebrated living sculptor. After studying at Trinity College in Cambridge and Saint Martin's School of Art, Goldsmiths and the Slade School of Fine Art in London, his career was launched with a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1981. Gormley’s work concerns the relationship of the human body to its spatial surroundings, and includes lead and bronze figures cast from his own body. Much of his work is site specific and early public artworks include 'Untitled [Listening]' (1983-84), 'Sound II' (1986), in the crypt of Winchester Cathedral and 'Iron:Man' (1993) in Victoria Square, Birmingham. Gormley’s best known public commission is the 'Angel of the North' (1998), Low Fell, Gateshead. Gormley’s work has been exhibited internationally and he was knighted in 2014.

Details

‘Untitled [Listening]’, a granite and bronze sculpture of 1983-84 by Antony Gormley, situated near the Brassey Road entrance to Maygrove Peace Park.

This sculpture stands 213cm in height and comprises a life-size nude male figure seated atop a glacial granite boulder. His left hand is cupped behind the ear in a listening gesture which appears simultaneously sympathetic and vigilant. The proportions and structure of the body are rendered without detail, emphasising universality rather than individuality. The ear, for example, is depicted schematically, with a small hole drilled at the centre. The sculpture is composed of welded sections with linear weld marks clearly articulated. The boulder is mounted on a slightly domed circular area of granite setts.

Sources

Books and journals
Gough, P.J., '‘Planting peace: the Greater London Council and the community gardens of central London’' in International Journal of Heritage Studies, , Vol. Vol.13, No1, (January 2007), pp.22-41
Websites
Description of recent conservation works, accessed 5 November 2015 from http://www.hallconservation.com/?portfolio=untitled-listening-antony-gormley
UNTITLED [LISTENING], accessed 5 November 2015 from http://www.antonygormley.com/sculpture/chronology-item-view/id/2202/page/564#p1

End of official listing