Antony Gormley sculpture acquired by Manchester Art Gallery with help from The Art Fund and local benefactors

  • 27 January 2009

Manchester Art Gallery has acquired an important sculpture by Antony Gormley, one of the UK's leading contemporary artists, it was announced today. Filter (2002) was bought with an £80,000 grant from leading independent art charity The Art Fund and valuable support from the Livingstone and Bloom Charitable Trusts.

This is the first time that the work will be shown in a public gallery in the UK, and means Manchester Art Gallery is just one of five regional galleries in the UK to have an Antony Gormley sculpture on permanent display.

Gormley (born1950) is probably best known for his public sculpture The Angel of the North in Gateshead and his installation Another Place, at Crosby Beach, Merseyside. He visited Manchester Art Gallery today to officially mark the new addition to the Gallery’s collections.

Filter is a suspended, life-size male figure made of cut steel rings welded together. Holes in the rings allow people to view the interior which contains a ‘heart’ made of a mass of steel balls of the same diameter as the inside of the rings. As with much of Gormley’s work, the figure is based on the artist’s own body.

Antony Gormley said: "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. 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."

Two abseilers had to be brought into the Gallery to help with the specialist installation of the sculpture. It took over two hours to gradually lift the work into place, and secure it in position. Filter is now hanging in Manchester Art Gallery’s magnificent glass extension, suspended by cable above the stairs leading to the Craft and Design and temporary exhibitions galleries.

Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Mike Amesbury, said: "This acquisition marks a renewed ambition by Manchester Art Gallery to develop the city’s public collection of contemporary artworks, contributing to the city’s reputation as a sustainable cultural destination. 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. 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. We are extremely grateful to them all for their assistance."

Director of The Art Fund, David Barrie commented:

"Antony Gormley is one of the best known artists working in the UK today, and his work delights audiences both here and around the world. Filter is a very exciting acquisition for Manchester, and it’s been achieved without a penny of public money having been spent – an especially impressive achievement in this difficult economic climate. 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."

Jack Livingstone commented:

"As a passionate supporter of Manchester Art Gallery for over 20 years now and more recently as Chair of the Trust, I am always looking at new ways I can assist with their work. I am hoping that this acquisition will be the start of an initiative which will see Manchester Art Gallery make other inspiring purchases in the future. I believe the purchase of a piece by Antony Gormley, whose work is so well known throughout the country, will give a lot of pleasure to all our visitors. I hope that for school children in particular, this sculpture will provide a stimulating starting point for imaginative discussions and spark an interest in art that will last for years."

Antony Gormley will also be speaking at an evening reception tonight, which is expected to be attended by around 200 invited guests. Filter is now on display at Manchester Art Gallery. People can see the work for free during standard gallery opening hours, Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm.


For further information and images, please contact:

Jenny Beard, Communications Manager, Manchester Art Gallery

Tel: 0161 235 8864. Email:


Tanera Bryden, Senior Press Officer, The Art Fund

Tel: 0207 225 4822/ 07912 777 761. Email:

Notes to editors:

About Antony Gormley

Over the last 25 years Antony Gormley has revitalised the human image in sculpture through a radical investigation of the body as a place of memory and transformation, using his own body as subject, tool and material.

Gormley’s work has been exhibited extensively nationally and internationally, with solo shows throughout the UK in venues such as the Whitechapel, Tate and the Hayward Galleries, the British Museum and White Cube. Blind Light, a major solo exhibition of his work, was held at the Hayward Gallery in 2007. He has also participated in major group shows such as the Venice Biennale.

Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994 and the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Trinity College and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge elected a Royal Academician in 2003 and appointed a Trustee of the British Museum since 2007.

A full biography for Antony Gormley is available on request.

About Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery is an award-winning gallery, which provides a welcoming, family-friendly gallery experience, in the city centre. It boasts a wide-range of displays with artworks spanning six centuries. Collections include internationally renowned fine art, an interactive family gallery, one of the most important collections of decorative arts, craft and design in the country and a permanent exhibition space dedicated to Manchester’s artistic achievements past and present. The gallery also has a regularly changing programme of high quality and often internationally significant temporary exhibitions.

Manchester Art Gallery re-opened in May 2002, following a four year £35 million expansion and refurbishment programme. It attracts almost 400,000 visitors per year and is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the region. In 2008 the gallery was awarded Enjoy England’s Northwest’s prestigious Large Visitor Attraction of the Year award. The same year, it was also one of five museums and galleries to reach the finals of the Guardian’s Family Friendly Museum Award.

About The Art Fund

The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections. Recent achievements include: helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; putting together a unique funding package to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007; running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK, and helping to save Rubens’ sketch for the ceiling at Banqueting House, Whitehall, for Tate in October 2008 with a grant of £600,000. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit