News Item

How the Iron Men came to land on Crosby beach

It’s ten years this month since Antony Gormley’s Another Place arrived in Sefton. In the first of two special articles to mark the anniversary, the Champion looks back at the origins of the project, and why the artist chose Crosby beach as the home of his iconic Iron Men.

As with many success stories, chance played a part in bringing the Another Place

sculptures to Crosby.

Back in 2004, staff at new regeneration agency South Sefton Development Trust –

now known as Regenerus – were looking for a high-profile project to launch the

organisation.

The agency’s then Chief Executive Rod Yeoman – who sadly died in 2013 – and members of his team met with a number of arts organisations to discuss possible partnerships.

One of these meetings was with Lewis Biggs, then Chief Executive of Liverpool Biennial, the international festival of contemporary art.

Lewis mentioned that he was aware of the short-term availability of the Antony Gormley sculptures, before they were due to be exhibited in New York.

The Development Trust representatives explained about the attractions of Crosby beach, a unique meeting point of river and open sea, and industrial dockland and coastal park.

By the end of the meeting, the Another Place project was effectively born…..

However, attempts to bring the Iron Men to south Sefton could not proceed without the artist approving the proposed location.

Unfortunately, the weather conditions for Antony Gormley’s visit to Crosby beach could scarcely have been more inauspicious.

In strong winds and squally showers, the artist strode out across beach. attempting to soak up the unique atmosphere of the area.

But despite the stinging sand in his face – and an unfortunate encounter with an area

of sinking sand – Antony Gormley gave the beach an immediate thumbs-up.

Cate Murphy, current Chief Executive of Regenerus and the organisation’s Another

Place Project Manager at the time, recalls: “The moment Antony topped the dunes and saw the beach, he just went ‘yes’.”

The artist’s excitement with the beach was captured in media interviews at the time.

In one he said: “The site is fantastic. It’s perfect, really good.  It has all the things I care about.  The view should be unobstructed and I like its strong, industrial passion.”

In another he commented: “Crosby beach is a place where, in a sense, the known

domestic life of a human being faces the chaotic and uncertain world of the sea, the wind and the sky.”

So far, so good. But as Cate Murphy points out, there were one or two far-from-minor issues still to be ironed out: “We had the outline of a plan in place, but at the time we

didn’t know how we were going to pay for the project.

“And, of course, there was the small matter of trying to get approval to place a number of large immovable metal objects in a busy river. There were a number of challenges ahead!”

 

* In next week’s article we look at the installation and launch of Another Place, and

the reception the Iron Men received.