If you”re driving along England”s coastline, you might find yourself looking across a desolate vista to see a solitary figure standing eerily still at the edge of a cliff, or on a jetty of rocks by the sea. You might even see one perched on the edge of Martello Tower. So who are these mysterious guardians of the coastline?
These are not people at all. In fact, they”re life-sized sculptures by English artist Antony Gormley, and there are five in total. The artist installed them at various Landmark Trust sites, and tasked the figures with keeping an eye on the waters beyond. The poignant series is called LAND.
Martello Tower, Aldeburgh, Suffolk
Martello Tower was built to defend the English against the French in the early nineteenth century. It is the northernmost structure in a series of towers along the coast.
Four out of the five statues overlook the North Sea, the English Channel, the Kilbrannan Sound, and the Bristol Channel, respectively. The fifth sculpture overlooks a smaller, lesser-known channel. Each piece was designed based on the unique characteristics of these historic sites, and they all stand under the open sky, ready to face the elements.
Lundy Island, Bristol Channel
This granite island in the Bristol Channel is home to many different kinds of plants and animals, and it has no roads or cars. Its beauty makes it a popular tourist destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The figures were designed to stand in contrast to their natural surroundings, making people aware of the human presence in nature. The series also highlights nature”s effect on humans. Of his work, Gormley says, “LAND invites us to think about our identity and the mindset of a nation surrounded by water, and how that affects the way we make our choices. Water both divides us from and connects us to the rest of the world. Water isolates us and makes us self-reliant, but the invitation of the horizon offers us the chance to overcome our limitations and engage with the future.”
These works also serve as a representation of all the people who have gazed out across water to consider where these great bodies come from, what they connect us to, and where they”re going.
Saddell Bay, Mull of Kintyre, Scotland
The figure on this bay in Scotland looks west to the Island of Arran, which is the home of Saddell Castle. The mysterious building dates back to the 1500s.
The statues were created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Landmark Trust, which is an organization dedicated to preserving historical buildings and sites throughout the U.K. and beyond.
Clavell Tower, Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset
This figure stands near Clavell Tower, which was built in 1830 as an observatory in the style of a Tuscan building. It”s been used as a local landmark ever since.
Lengthsman”s Cottage, Lowsonford, Warwickshire
The fifth figure stands not at the coast, but over a man-made channel, which puts it in contrast with the rugged, open venues occupied by the other four. The cottage here was built for the person who manages this portion of the South Stratford Canal.
(via My Modern Met)
The sculptures will be on display at these locations until May of 2016, a year after their installation. Until then, they are fully accessible to the public, adding another layer of depth to these iconic historical sites.
You can see more of Antony Gormley”s work on his website.
For more sculpture in the great outdoors, you can travel to these places: