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Gormley statue stands defiant against sea-borne invaders at Aldeburgh

PUBLISHED: 10:00 28 April 2015

Antony Gormley statue at Aldeburgh Martello Tower.

Antony Gormley statue at Aldeburgh Martello Tower.

A figure standing with arms folded will stare defiantly out to sea from the battlements of one of Suffolk’s coastal fortresses for the next 12 months.

Antony Gormley statue at Aldeburgh Martello Tower.Antony Gormley statue at Aldeburgh Martello Tower.

A crane was yesterday hoisting the life-size cast-iron statue into position – as it was revealed for the first time after months of planning and work.

The sculpture is one of five around the country and the only solo outdoor art installation in the UK this year by acclaimed sculptor Sir Antony Gormley.

It is being fixed atop of the Napoleonic Martello Tower at Slaughden, Aldeburgh, as part of a project called Land to celebrate 50 years of the Landmark Trust.

The Martello Tower location was chosen by Sir Antony – a Turner Prize winner and creator of the Angel of the North – and the sculpture specially designed and created for the site.

Antony Gormley statue at Aldeburgh Martello Tower.Antony Gormley statue at Aldeburgh Martello Tower.

He said: “The sculpture will stand on the battlements of the Martello Tower and connect with the time that this defensive structure was made, the early 1800s.

“The sculpture’s attitude is one of defiance and indifference to any potential invader from across the sea.

“With its arms folded and looking slightly to its right, there is a feeling of ‘well, what’s going on here?’ about it.”

The Landmark Trust will mark its anniversary with a Golden Weekend of events on May 16 and 17 which will include the tower staging a free open day both days.

Sir Antony Gormley, whose statue as part of the Land installation has been put in place at the Martello Tower at Slaughden, Aldeburgh. Photo: Stephen White.Sir Antony Gormley, whose statue as part of the Land installation has been put in place at the Martello Tower at Slaughden, Aldeburgh. Photo: Stephen White.

Kasia Howard, engagement manager at the trust, said: “As well as Landmarkers, we would love to see the local community during the Golden Weekend – people for whom Martello Tower is part of their local scene, and who perhaps knew the building before its restoration. This is a chance for us to celebrate Britain’s amazing history with everyone, as it exists all around us today.

“Antony Gormley’s work shares many of the themes found in Landmark’s work: an engagement with landscape and the habitats we create, and how at a human level we resonate with them.”

The tower was built between 1808 and 1812 as the most northerly of a chain of defensive towers along the south and east coasts when it was feared Napoleon would invade. It was restored by the Landmark Trust as self-catering accommodation in the 1970s.

Statues have also been put in place at Clavell Tower, Dorset; Lundy in the Bristol Channel; Saddell Bay, in the Mull of Kintyre; and Lengthsman’s Cottage, Warwickshire, to mark the four compass points and centre of the country.

Music will be a key component of the celebrations on the Landmark Trust’s Golden Weekend with the premiere of a new work by composer Kerry Andrew to mark its 50th anniversary.

At 3pm on Saturday, May 16 musicians across the country will simultaneously perform An Anthem for Landmark at each of the 25 properties of the trust open to the public.

The Rabble Chorus, a community choir of around 250 singers, will perform the Anthem For Landmark and other songs at Aldeburgh. The Chorus – which has groups in Easton, Woodbridge, Saxmundham and Needham market – will perform its own version of the Anthem, using a toolbox of musical fragments created by Kerry.

Kirsty Logan, from the Rabble Chorus, said: “The Rabble Chorus has performed in many interesting venues; a field, a department store, even the Royal Albert Hall, but this is our first time performing in, on and around a Martello Tower!

“We are looking forward to singing our own interpretation of the music; trying to reflect the space and shape of this fascinating building in our performance, set against the ever present accompaniment of the sea and the gulls.”

The Martello Tower at Aldeburgh, and Cavendish Hall, near Clare, where The Stour Valley Singers will perform the Anthem, will be open for free from 10am to 4pm on May 16/17

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