12/12/2011

The British Library unveils new Antony Gormley sculpture to commemorate English PEN’s 90th anniversary


Witness, Antony Gormley's new sculpture at the British Library © Clare Kendall (contact Evie Jeffreys on 020 7412 7105)

Antony Gormley unveiled his new sculpture at the British Library today, 13 December. The sculpture, Witness, was commissioned by English PEN to mark their 90th anniversary and has been placed permanently at the British Library. Cast in iron, the work depicts an empty chair, a symbol that English PEN has used for the last 30 years to represent imprisoned writers around the world.

The sculpture joins Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s Newton and another of Gormley’s works, Planets, on the piazza in front of the British Library. English PEN feels that, as the UK's national library, the British Library is an ideal location for the sculpture to be enjoyed by its visitors and users.

At PEN’s annual event, ‘The Day of the Imprisoned Writer’, writers worldwide commemorate colleagues who have been persecuted for their work. Each year an empty chair represents a writer who could not be present because they have been imprisoned, detained, threatened or killed.

Dame Lynne Brindley comments: “We are delighted to be chosen as the permanent home for this new work by Antony Gormley, and one that supports such an important organisation. The British Library admires the support that English PEN gives writers all over the world and is pleased to be involved in such a poignant project.”

Antony Gormley, recognised for such works as Angel of the North and Event Horizon, says: "This is a place of witness, cast in massive iron that will simply rest, isolated, for anyone or no one to occupy."

Gillian Slovo, English PEN’s President, says: “Antony Gormley has generously created for English PEN a sculpture that plays off the symbolism of PEN's empty chair. It will stand as tribute to, and reminder of, those writers who, because of censorship and tyranny, are not free to go to any library either in their countries or in ours, and at the same time recognises the work of PEN branches throughout the world in service of free expression.”

For pictures please contact:

Evie Jeffreys
t: 020 7412 7105
e: evie.jeffreys@bl.uk

-Ends-

Notes to Editors:

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

English PEN promotes the freedom to write and the freedom to read. English PEN exists to promote the role of literature in the development of mutual understanding and world culture; to promote literature in a variety of ways, including by opposing restraints on freedom of expression and working to promote literacy; and to act as a powerful voice on behalf of writers persecuted, imprisoned and sometimes killed for their views. PEN was founded in 1921 by English novelist Amy Dawson Scott and early members included J.M. Barrie, G.K. Chesterton, Rebecca West, Robert Frost, H.G. Wells, Joseph Conrad and George Bernard Shaw. PEN, which used to stand for Poets, Essayists and Novelists, spread rapidly across the world and today has 144 centres throughout Asia and the South Pacific, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America. It now includes journalists, playwrights, publishers, bloggers, graphic novelists and translators.

For more information contact:


BoilerPlate

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  

 

Download

Download everything on this page (zip format)

Related Media

Witness,anew<br />AntonyGormley<br />sculptureatthe<br />BritishLibrary©<br />ClareKendall<br />(contactEvie<br />Jeffreyson0207412<br />7105)

Download [ .JPG 5.4MB ]
Copyright Statement

View Details

 

AntonyGormleywith<br />hisnewwork,<br />Witness,atthe<br />BritishLibrary©<br />ClareKendall<br />(contactEvie<br />Jeffreyson0207412<br />7105)

Download [ .JPG 5.4MB ]
Copyright Statement

View Details

 

AntonyGormleywith<br />hisnewwork,<br />Witness,atthe<br />BritishLibrary©<br />ClareKendall<br />(contactEvie<br />Jeffreyson0207412<br />7105)

Download [ .JPG 3.6MB ]
Copyright Statement

View Details

 

AntonyGormleyand<br />BaronessBlackstone<br />unveilthenew<br />sculpture,Witness©<br />ClareKendall<br />(contactEvie<br />Jeffreyson0207412<br />7105)

Download [ .JPG 4.8MB ]
Copyright Statement

View Details

 

Search

Press Office Contact

Press Office:
+ 44 (0) 20 7412 7110

Out of Hours:
+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

Email:
press-and-pr@bl.uk

Subscribe to our latest news   rss

The British Library Privacy Policy Statement

Follow Us

BritishLibrary Facebook BritishLibrary YouTube BritishLibrary Flicker BritishLibrary AudioBoo

Twitter

Share

delicious digg reddit