A rather morbid statue has been installed on top of the library

People have taken to social media to criticise the installation’s timing with exam season

This week a statue by artist Antony Gormley was installed on the roof of the library. The figure, comparable in size to a real human being, can be spotted peering over the edge of the ginormous building, which for some holds some morbid connotations. With exam season and dissertation-hand-in days looming, artist Antony Gormley has put a faceless life-size figure on the top of the library staring off into nothingness.

This prestigious artist and creator of the much loved ‘Angel of the North’ has made his work felt in Noz and the statue is the first of three to be installed across campus as part of a project with the Sainsbury Centre.

However, students and staff who have remained on campus for the Easter break have taken to social media to already begin voicing their disapproval of both the installation and its timing with the most stressful period of the academic year.

This prestigious artist, and creator of the much loved ‘Angel of the North’, has made his work felt in Noz and the statue is the first of three to be installed across campus. Students and staff who have remained on campus for the Easter break have taken to social media, however, to already voice their distaste at both the art and its timing with the most stressful period of the academic year.

Exam season is stressful for individuals across the country, and every year students’ suicides are reported as a result of the crippling pressure they feel. Whether it was Gormley’s intention to create a physical embodiment of this immense strain students feel themselves put under we cannot fathom. This hopefully is not the true meaning of how the University intends that this high-profile installation “will enhance the campus for students, staff and visitors alike.”

Upset has already been voiced since the statue’s installation yesterday and a petition to remove the figure has already begun circling online. One student took to Twitter and said: “Love his work, & it fits with our other sculptures, but I think it’s potentially a poor choice, especially at dissertation crunch time…”.

The statue certainly has created the desired ruckus around social media, with it recieving labels such as being “bad taste”, or “creepy”. However, maybe its positioning, and the meaning derived from that has a point. Surely it is in the nature of art to be thought provoking, as well as connect with its audience, and given the wide amount of coverage it has already recieved on social media outside of term time is indicative of the enhanced effectiveness of the statue.

A UEA spokesman defended the statue, saying they were “thought-provoking and offer both spectacle and surprise.”

Katie, a fourth year Master’s student, highlights a more nuanced perspective on the statue, and states how “It has succeeded in creating a discussion on campus.

“We need to ask why we find it alarming – do we find it alarming that the statue could be mistaken as someone about to jump or do we find it alarming that this made us stop for a second and think, with suicide being one of the themes it evokes?

“Is it alarming that we feel such a rejection to even look at suicide as a theme and immediately judge it as inappropriate – when this can open the doors to an interpretation that this piece of art could indeed be speaking about suicide and mental health problems and the need to take people away from that edge.”

Moreover, University is a hub of cultural expression and Katie too welcomes the presence of provoking art on our campus outside of the Sainsbury Centre.

Another student, second year Charlie, has also interpreted it as a step in the right direction for talking about mental health:  “I think if it was meant to be a deliberate statement on suicide/mental illness at uni, then it’s important – people are talking.”

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