Antony Gormley sculpture unveiled

English PEN and The British Library today unveiled a new Antony Gormley sculpture to commemorate English PEN’s 90th anniversary. Antony Gormley unveiled his new sculpture at the British Library on 13 December 2011 at 11.00am. The sculpture, Witness, has been commissioned by English PEN to mark our 90th anniversary and will be 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 will join 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 more information, photos and interviews please contact:
Evie Jeffreys
British Library
T: 44(0)20 7412 7105

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