Ambitious plans to turn the grounds of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA) into the east of England’s answer to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park have been announced. The arts centre, which was designed by Norman Foster in 1974 to house the large collection of Robert and Lisa Sainsbury, currently has seven sculptures including works by John Hoskin, Liliane Lijn and three bronzes by Henry Moore. The sculptures can be found around the 350-acre parkland that the SCVA shares with the campus of the University of East Anglia (UEA). “We plan to develop the sculpture park in the coming years and we are looking at potential partners and funders for the project,” says Calvin Winner, the head of collections at the SCVA and the park’s curator.
The project will be launched on 22 April with a major commission by the British sculptor Antony Gormley. 3x Another Time (2016) includes three life-sized cast-iron sculptures from the artist’s ongoing series Another Time (1999-2013), which have been placed at different locations on the UEA’s striking Denys Lasdun-designed Brutalist buildings. “Antony was very engaged with the idea of placing these sculptures in the very particular environment of student life on a campus, and was energised when he saw the university and its architecture,” Winner says.
But the sculptures have sparked controversy, with some students complaining that the figures—particularly the one placed on the library roof—look like real people trying to jump. An online petition, which currently has around 175 signatures, describes the sculptures as “unsettling” and has requested that the university remove them. Winner says that there are no plans to remove the works, adding: “Antony didn’t want or expect everyone’s reaction to be positive—for him, the point of the work is to be thought-provoking and for people to take notice.” Gormley says the works are "nothing to do with suicide, they're actually to do with life and they're placed on the skyline in a way to make us think about space and distance", the BBC reports.
For future sculptures, the SCVA hopes to commission or acquire works that complement the exhibitions inside the galleries. The next sculpture is a 10m model of Tatlin’s Tower by Jeremy Dixon, gifted to the centre by the Royal Academy, which showed it in its courtyard in 2012, and will be revealed in the park in October, when the SCVA opens its exhibitions marking the anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Winner says that there are also discussions under way with the estates of Elisabeth Frink, Anthony Caro and Eduardo Chillida. “We would be very interested in expanding our collection of Henry Moore sculptures and we have a very good relationship with the estate,” he says.