Antony Gormley Furious as Anti-EU Group Uses His Sculpture for Propaganda Stunt

Ironically, the huge public sculpture was built with EU funding.

Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North near Gateshead, England.Photo: David Wilson Clarke via Wikimedia Commons.
Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North near Gateshead, England.
Photo: David Wilson Clarke via Wikimedia Commons.
Sculptor Anthony Gormley at his studio.<br>Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

Sculptor Anthony Gormley at his studio.
Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

British artist Antony Gormley is well and truly fuming. The anti-EU group Vote Leave, which campaigns for the UK’s exit from the European Union, has used the artist’s iconic Angel of the North statue to project their slogan “Vote Leave, Take Control” along a red ballot box.

Sir Gormley, according to the Express, has asked his lawyers to send a letter to the pro-Brexit (a portmanteau for “British” and “exit”) campaigners, accusing them of “manipulation” of the artwork’s “instantly recognisable character.”

“As an artist with a substantial reputation in the United Kingdom and worldwide, it amounts to passing off to suggest a false endorsement by, or connection with, Sir Antony in connection with the activities and political purposes of Vote Leave Limited,” the letter reads, as reported by the Telegraph.

“Presumably the reputation of the work and its instantly recognizable character were the reasons that it was selected for the projection or digital manipulation,” the letter continues, describing the Angel of the North as one of the most famous artworks in the UK.

The Vote Leave slogan.<br>Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Vote Leave slogan.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The letter also states that Vote Leave should have known that “their use of the Angel of the North as an advertising medium is both unlawful and damaging to the integrity of this important work”.

Ironically, the pro-Brexit group’s choice is doubly misguided, as Gormley’s 175-feet tall steel public sculpture, whose total cost was £800,000 ($1.1 million), was developed with funding from the European Union.

“It’s very disappointing that our iconic structures have been misused in this way, particularly as the council welcomes the benefits that Gateshead residents receive from UK membership of the European Union,” a Gateshead council spokesperson told the Guardian.

Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North near Gateshead, England.<br>Photo: David Wilson Clarke via Wikimedia Commons.

Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North near Gateshead, England.
Photo: David Wilson Clarke via Wikimedia Commons.

“It’s also somewhat ironic that both the Angel of the North and Baltic [art center] actually benefited from European regional development funding, along with many other important projects in Gateshead,” the spokesperson added.

British citizens, and foreigners living in the United Kingdom, are in turmoil as the date of the referendum on whether the country will stay or leave the European Union—slated for June 23—approaches.

According to a poll published by the Telegraph this week, 52 percent of Britons who plan to vote in the referendum supports Brexit, while 45 percent supports staying in the EU.


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