Page last updated at 13:52 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Gallery unveils Gormley sculpture

Gormley statue, Filter
The statue is suspended from steel wires over the staircase

A sculpture by Angel Of The North creator Antony Gormley has gone on display in the UK for the first time.

The life-sized male figure of welded steel rings, which is called Filter and is based on the artist's own body, was unveiled at Manchester Art Gallery.

Two abseilers installed the sculpture, which is suspended on cables over a staircase in a glass-roofed section.

The work, which was made in 2002, was bought with an 80,000 grant from art charity, The Art Fund.

Gormley, 58, is best known for the Angel, the huge metal-girder statue which overlooks the A1 in Gateshead, and the Another Place installation of statues on Crosby Beach in Merseyside.

Holes in Filter's rings allow people to see inside the body, which contains a mass of steel balls representing a "heart".

It is the first time the work has appeared in a public gallery in the UK, an Art Fund spokesperson said.

City ambition

"The work hangs in space as if in orbit, open to light and the elements. It is a meditation on the relationship between the core of the body and space at large," said Mr Gormley.

"It suggests that, while movement, freedom of choice and the exercising of will is one way in which life expresses itself, there is another axis: the relationship between emotion and spatial experience."

He said he was delighted with the figure's location.

"It was important that it was light and clear, and that's exactly what I've got, but the added advantage is that you can see it from below, from the same level and from above," he said.

"I'm hugely proud and pleased to have the work in the collection and in a space that isn't devoted entirely to other artworks."

Manchester's aim is to leave an important and lasting legacy for future generations
Manchester City Council

Manchester City Council said the arrival of the sculpture marked the gallery's ambition to develop its collection of contemporary work.

"Manchester's aim is to leave an important and lasting legacy for future generations and to engage new and existing audiences with the art of our time," said culture spokesman, Councillor Mike Amesbury.

"The purchase of Filter is a tremendous example of a partnership between The Art Fund and private individuals with a great passion for art, and pride in our city."

David Barrie, director of the Art Fund, said he was delighted that the work had been bought for the public without any public money being spent.

"We put 80,000 in and the balance of the funding was provided by trusts, so the whole thing was funded privately," he said.

"The Art Fund has 80,000 members and we have, in effect, given 1 for each of them, showing that, cumulatively, even the smallest contributions can be enormously effective."

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