Antony Gormley’s Alan Turing Memorial Moves Forward Despite Concerns That It Will ‘Harm’ a British School

In spite of the objections from a group overseeing cultural heritage in the U.K., plans to install a 12-foot-tall sculpture by Antony Gormley commemorating mathematician Alan Turing in Cambridge have been approved.

Turing deciphered military codes used by German forces during World War II and was later persecuted by the British government under laws about homosexual acts. He died by suicide in 1954.

The sculpture of him is now set to be permanently installed on the Cambridge University King’s College campus where he once studied. Cambridge City council’s planning committee approved the plans for the work on August 3. The memorial is set to overlook a chapel at King’s College at Cambridge University.

In 2020, officials at Historic England objected to the initial proposal to mount the sculpture of the British college’s ground. The group claimed in a statement that the abstract metal figure “would harm the particular character” of the campus’s historic layout.

Important members of the British cultural scene have endorsed Gormley’s proposal for the sculpture, however. The Art Newspaper reported that Alex Farquharson, Tate Britain’s director, penned a redacted letter in 2019 in support of the work. He described it as a “highly fitting tribute” to both Turing and Gormley, calling them each “leading” figures in their respective fields.

In a statement announcing the approval last week, the university’s provost, Michael Proctor, said “it was in the College’s tolerant, open-minded and intellectual environment that Turing was able to live a fulfilled life both as a homosexual man and an abstract thinker,” adding that the school’s officials hope for the sculpture to be “a great source of interest” to the public.

This is not the only public Gormley work to be eyed with suspicion recently. Last week, plans to install one of the artist’s steel figures at the Imperial College in London’s revamped campus caused an outcry among some of the school’s students for its “phallic” appearance. That work is also expected to move forward as planned.

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