WhatMuseums & Galleries
21/09/2019 - 03/12/2019
Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House, Piccadilly
Opens 21 September
Tickets: £18 adults, U16s free
Come into the RA's courtyard and tiny Iron Baby is lying on the paving, a cast of Gormley's 6 day old daughter, made some twenty years ago. From tiny things...
Gormley's naked men - floating, suspended, often in public spaces - are instantly recognisable and have taken on an 'everyman' quality. The blurb to this retrospective tells us it will invite visitors to 'slow down and become aware of their own bodies'. It is not just guff. This is a show all about size, scale and space and how we fit into it.
The first gallery, Slabworks, contains 14 metal sculptures. Children will love finding the human forms within the abstract angular shapes.
Into the next light-filled room. Early works including a curled up figure munched out of slices of Mother's Pride bread, a line of 52 metal figures growing into an apple, two footprints swirling into a giant tree trunk.
Turn left out of the airy space and into a swirling mesh of bendy aluminium tubing. Clearing VII is a 'drawing in space' and it is exactly that - a mad crazy scribble fitting into a three dimensional box. In you go, Climb over, under, through. Children will be in heaven.
Subject II, the single figure standing in the room the far side is almost like a hologram. Beautiful and still in the emptiness.
Back onto your journey - follow the thin suspended metal line into the biggest room. A giant mesh of recycled steel mesh cages are hanging above you, the oppressive Matrix III.
Kids will whiz through the room of drawings but you can stay a bit in these while they are having fun in the room of Gormley's signature men hanging from all sides.
Beyond this is Cave which will probably be the highlight for little ones. Climb through a narrow iron passageway and come out into a disorientatingly dark angular space. Where are you? How does this fit into the trad RA gallery space? You are encouraged to scramble up and explore. WARNING: be careful getting down. I did a very undignified (and quite painful) splat!
Blinking out of the dark into Host, a gallery that has been filled with clay seawater. It is organic, smooth, still. The other side to the overhanging Matrix III.
One tip. We were extremely lucky and went to a press preview which was busy but not packed. More than most shows this is one when you will be rewarded by booking the first slot of the day and getting to the front of the queue. Experience the space and the objects within it without masses of people jostling round. It is a magical joy of a show.
Opens 21 September
Tickets: £18 adults, U16s free
Burlington House, Piccadilly
020 7300 8000
How to get there:
Tube to Green Park
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