Angel of the North creator Antony Gormley's new sculpture to transform Dewsbury skyline

The skyline above Dewsbury is set to be transformed by Angel of the North sculptor Antony Gormley as part of a multi-million regeneration project.

By Ian Hirst
Friday, 4th December 2020, 11:08 am
Updated Friday, 4th December 2020, 11:14 am

People living in Dewsbury will be inspired to look up to the rooftops as the world-renowned artist is loaning an innovative iron creation to sit on top of a Victorian building in his Yorkshire birth town.

The sculpture, entitled WORK, will be revealed later this year at the new Kirklees College Pioneer Higher Skills Centre in Dewsbury.

Made from cast iron, the sculpture will sit on the rooftop of Pioneer House, an iconic Grade II Listed building that has been renovated and transformed into a new centre for higher skills and education.

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Antony Gormley, Work, 2010, (copyright the artist, photograph by Stephen White and Co)

The creation is an early example of Antony Gormley’s Beamer series, which investigates the space of a human body by using the structures of the body that normally contain it.

The sculpture is made up of a network of interlocking beams, suggesting that the body is as much a register of space as it is a displacer of it.

It is constructed from blocks and beams set to x/y/z coordinates, containing voids that allow space to penetrate the body. It looks outwards to the horizon.

Speaking about his latest sculpture, Antony Gormley commented: "I am delighted to mount WORK on the roof of Pioneer House as a celebration of our hands-on making culture. I hope that it also expresses something of the character of the place: rugged and determined but open to light, space and the future.

"Having spent a lot of my childhood in Yorkshire, I came to love its open moors and strong communities that coexist within an open landscape.

"Yorkshire has a long association with the dynamic relationship between mining, manufacturing and engineering, and a rich heritage in all forms of industrial fabrication.

"It is an honour for me to have a work on the skyline of this fine building created by the co-operative movement, that expresses so well the spirit of the town and region. I intend the work to be part of that history and of the building, but also to look out to the wider world."

The sculpture marks the launch the Dewsbury, Public Art Plan: Creative Town, and will be just one of the new developments in Dewsbury town centre under a multi-million pound regeneration project.

The project has been part-funded through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal, delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and the LEP, supported by Kirklees College,

Kirklees Council, The Arts Council, The Heritage Lottery Fund and The Dewsbury Townscape Heritage Initiative.

Oliver Boothroyd, Creative Lecturer in Art and Design at Kirklees College, said: "The heritage and regeneration work in Dewsbury were key to bringing this project to life.

"As well as bringing this work to our new Pioneer Higher Skills Centre, we will also be launching a school’s engagement project in Kirklees. This will enable the college to interact with people of all ages in the local community by raising awareness of public sculpture and the arts."

Dewsbury is one of many in the region to suffer at the hands of the declining high street over recent years, with a blueprint unveiled in February this year which could involve up to £200m invested into breathing new life into the centre over the next decade.

New buildings, green spaces and money spent on the town centre's arcade are all part of of the ambitious plans hoped to be completed by 2030.

A cultural boost will also be provided, not just from the Gormley sculpture, but with art installations built into the town's fabric on buildings, in footpaths and part of lighting and seating in newly-created public spaces.

Coun Shabir Pandor, Leader, Kirklees Council added: "It is an exciting time for Dewsbury and for Kirklees, our Blueprint plans have culture at the heart and it is truly exciting to kick start this journey with an amazing artist!

"I am proud to be working in partnership with Kirklees College to celebrate Antony Gormley’s WORK on Pioneer House for all to see and enjoy."