Sculpting the lockdown blues: Gormley's Great Big Art Exhibition

Iona Lowe has praise for Antony Gormley's latest attempt to inspire us through the lockdown

Iona Lowe
9th February 2021
Antony Gormley's Angel of the North. Photo: Mike Peel via Wikimedia Commons

The first exhibition to open since the latest lockdown began is now on, and could be part of your daily walk, or pop up in the mosaic of your Instagram Explore. A corona-free affair, the only requirement: the artwork has to be on the theme ‘animal’.

The man behind the angel is on the move, and his latest project is well under way.  Antony Gormley is a big name up here in the North. Not just in length, but in fame as well. It appears the artist/sculptor is working with a new medium for his latest sculpture, one which is universally available and arguably has never been used before. The desperation and boredom of yet another lockdown is being moulded by the sculptor into one of the largest exhibitions – The Great Big Art Exhibition – and you could be the artist. 

Paints, performance, sculpture and more, this exhibition is not an exclusive one – for artist or medium.  Gormley’s nationwide exhibition unzips the creative world to everyone, whether rational or artistic, young or old. A collaboration of over fifteen galleries is involved, and eleven world famous artists (Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor to name a few). All of whom provide the general artists with direction – perhaps the most solid guidance we have received over the last year. 

In a time when isolation is a trending word, and ‘lockdown’ is the new normal, we could all use a bit of unification, as well as a distraction from the cycle of the six o'clock news.

The magic behind the exhibition is the essence of physicality Gormley has created for the suspended art world. Through the repeated lockdowns, we have seen so many innovative ways of sparking that creative flame and providing some light in a post-Covid-19 world. Grayson Perry launched ‘Art Club’ on Channel 4, while the #artistsupportpledge flying over Instagram feeds provides a support network for artists. But what Gormley has done is make this exhibition a reality, asking people to show their work to the world outside, providing the daily walker and fortnightly runner who pass along the streets (and perhaps the occasional plane which flies through the sky) with the visual sense of art so many have been craving.

The online world has dominated our lives, and continues to dominate. The Great Big Art Exhibition not only unites, but it injects the world with the serum of colour it has been lacking as art spaces remain closed, and artists locked away from their studios.  

Galleries may be closed, but gardens, windows and balconies of individuals remain open and ready for sculpting into your own art studio and exhibition – simply at the price of a hashtag. 

How to get involved:

Showcase your work: #thegreatbigartexhibition2021 

Or alternatively through any public space (window, garden or balcony) 

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