Opportunities to understand China, Chinese culture and Chinatown

Sir Antony Gormley’s evening in Chinatown gave us time for reflection, with discussions on the purpose of art and human beings’ relationship with the environment. Sir Antony stated that at its core, the purpose of art is to “change the way people think”. He said this is what he loves about sculpture; that’s it’s not simply a special object in a museum, but something with the power to change people’s minds. For him, sculpture is a good instrument to open up questions about human nature.

Sir Antony talked about some of his best known works, including the Angel of the North, and Another Place. When asked about the meaning behind Another Place, where human figures looking out to sea are scattered along the beach in Crosby, he said that part of it was to do with climate change, and that the names refers to the fact that there is no other place.

Despite the sometimes complex origins behind his work, Sir Antony insists it is not an intellectual exercise and sculptures are “not a message that has to be read”. Rather they can be enjoyed simply for the physical reaction the viewer has to them.

In the Q&A a member of the audience asked what was the best advice Sir Antony has ever had. Sir Antony replied that it was to keep going, and to “carry on until the point that it speaks to you, and tells you what to do”. He said that often he finds that it is the work that is making him, rather than the other way around.

Watch the video to find out why Sir Antony loves the Easter Island heads, and how living in “selfie land” affects us all.