Sculpture for Derry Walls

Artist Name(s) Antony Gormley
Artwork title Sculpture for Derry Walls
Context/Background In 1977, Jonathan Harvey co-founded TSW-Television South West (the ITV franchise holder for South West England) and worked as their Arts Consultant until the end of the company’s franchise in 1992. Through his work as Arts Consultant to TSW, alongside Tony Foster and James Lingwood, Harvey developed and organised a number of TSWA projects, including the two groundbreaking public art projects, TSWA 3D (1987) and TSWA’s Four Cities Projects (1990). The 1987 TSWA 3D project commissioned major temporary site-specific works throughout the UK, including Gormley’s ‘Sculpture for Derry Walls’, as well as artworks by other artists including Edward Allington, Hannah Collins, Judith Goddard, Ron Haselden, Sharon Kivland, Holly Warburton, Kate Whiteford, Richard Wilson and George Wyllie

‘Sculpture for Derry Walls’ (1987) was a three-part sculpture placed in three particular locations along the city’s seventeenth century fortified walls: on the east overlooking the Foyle River, over the Bogside by the remains of the Walker Monument and on the Bastion overlooking the Fountain Estate.

Each sculpture consisted of two identical cast-iron figures joined back-to-back (each 196 x 193 x 54 cm). They held a cruciform pose and were placed in such a way that one faced into the walled city, while the other was outward-looking. It has been said that the sculptures represented Derry's two dominant religious communities, turning away from each other, but paradoxically joined as one body, separated by their religious, cultural and political differences, but united in their Christianity and their shared location.





Nuala McCann, ‘Sculptor Antony Gormley's Derry 'baptism of fire'’, BBC News, 20 June 2011.

BBC 2 Radio archives ‘Five Sculptors; Anthony Gormely’ Julia Clave (Producer), first broadcast 22 May 1988

Micheal Archer ‘Invisible yearnings: TSWA 3D New works for public places’ in Artscribe, January/February 1991, pp.60-63

David Harding ed. DECADEnt - Public Art: Contentious term and Contested Practice (Glasgow: Foulis Press, 1997)

John Harvey, Tony Foster, James Lingwood (eds.) TSWA-3D (Exeter: South West Arts, 1987)

Declan McGonagle, ‘New Negotiations: A role for Art and Institutions within Society’ in John Osmond (Ed.), Myths, Memories and Futures (Cardiff: IWA, 2007)

States and Conditions (Derry: Orchard Gallery, 2001)

Map of Derry’s public artworks, produced by C.C.A Derry in collaboration with PLACE Architecture Belfast, for ‘Contours of the Commons’ exhibition in 2012:


Antony Gormley was born in London in 1950. He is widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. His work has developed the potential opened up by sculpture in the 1970s through a critical engagement with both his own body and those of others in a way that confronts fundamental questions of where human being stands in relation to nature and the cosmos. Gormley continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise. Gormley's work has been widely exhibited throughout the UK and internationally with exhibitions at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Rio di Janeiro and Brasilia (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2012); The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2007); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (1993) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1989). He has also participated in major group shows such as the Venice Biennale (1982 and 1986) and Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany (1987). Permanent public works include the Angel of the North (Gateshead, England), Another Place (Crosby Beach, England), Inside Australia (Lake Ballard, Western Australia) and Exposure (Lelystad, The Netherlands). Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994, the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999, the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture in 2007 and the Obayashi Prize in 2012. In 1997 he was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and was made a knight in the New Year's Honours list in 2014.  He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, an Honorary Doctor of the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge. Gormley has been a Royal Academician since 2003 and a British Museum Trustee since 2007. 

Commission Type Other state agency
Commissioner Name TSW (UK) and The Orchard Gallery, Derry (N.I). Funded by TSWA 3D public art programme
Commissioning process Invitation
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By Other

Original locations

1. East wall, overlooking the Foyle River 2. By the remains of the Walker Monument, overlooking the Bogside 3. On the Bastion overlooking the Fountain Estate.

Current location

East wall bastion, The Millenium Forum theatre, Newmarket street.
County Derry
Town Derry-Londonderry
Content contributor(s) Web Editor
Public engagement

Anthony Gormley on the sculptures installation and reception:

Putting the statue in place in the city's Fountain estate proved a fairly hairy business. It was right in the middle of the Troubles. We were surrounded by a sullen group of Protestant kids. They were throwing stones and sticks and then spitting on the sculpture. The sculpture came over the top dripping with saliva. The missiles kept coming. The work had a baptism of fire... We had big props to keep it vertical while the concrete it was set in went off overnight. They set a bonfire around it. The final act was throwing a tyre around its neck and then pouring petrol on it. Then throwing the petrol can onto the fire... There was this splendid vision the next day of this totemic object that had really been made into a fetish... Red melted plastic was running like blood over the totally black charred head. This was excellent. This was the work as poultice throwing violence and evil onto itself that would otherwise be experienced in other ways."

To Gormley, the fact that his work immediately provoked such a strong reaction was proof that it was working. "The sculpture from Derry walls was not my first attempt, but my first successful realisation. I guess you can say that this was my baptism. I realised that art could have a social purpose and it could engage with real issues and real communities."

In 2001, Brendan McMenamin and Declan McGonagle retraced the history of the three sculptures – two had been removed, while one had been kept in possession of the city. A case was made for the one remaining sculpture to be reinstated permanently on the city walls. In the accompanying publication, States and conditions, (Derry: Orchard Gallery, 2001), Caoimhí n Mac Giolla Léith addressed the specific connection of Gormley’s sculpture to the Derry Context:

"Perched on the battlements of a walled city historically divided against itself, these heavily armoured cast iron shells, scarred with crude seams, echoed the dual signification of domination and defence, repulsion and containment, of the walls themselves seen from the diverse view points of a riven community (...) Sculpture for Derry Walls is a prime example of Gormley’s persistent attempts to bridge the imaginative gap between the individual and the community, and to forge links between the isolated body and the body politic."

In 2001, the last remaining sculpture ‘Untitled (Sculpture for Derry Walls)’ 1987/2001, was relocated to the East wall bastion, in front of The Millenium Forum theatre in Newmarket street.

Associated professionals / Specialists involved


Declan McGonagle – Director of The Orchard Gallery, Derry (from 1978 to 1984 and 1986 to 1990)

Jonathan Harvey - Arts Consultant and Co-founder of TSW (from 1977 to 1992)





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