Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.
Perched on top of Blackwell’s Art and Poster Shop on Oxford’s Exeter College, this seven-foot-tall statue by Antony Gormley is one of a series of sculptures called “Another Time II,” based on molds taken from his own body. Gormley is most well known for his massive, winged Angel of the North, which takes a similar watchful view over Newcastle. This bronze nude in Oxford weighs half a ton and was the gift of an anonymous benefactor in 2009.
Broad Street is one of the most frequented streets in Oxford, connecting St. Giles to the Sheldonian, Blackwell’s bookstores, and several museums and colleges. However, hundreds of people pass through this area every day without noticing the naked man on the roof. Many students and visitors only notice him after several days, or even weeks, and spotting him at night can be disconcerting. Several surprised passersby have made phone calls to the local police, fearing that they were witnessing a suicide attempt. Some in the know (students, in particular) have climbed to the roof to dress it in various outfits.
Exeter’s College rector Frances Cairncross praised the statue upon installation, saying that the “wonderfully stark” sculpture would be a welcome contrast to the “florid figures” standing across the way at Trinity College. Gormley, too, was quite pleased with his bronze’s clever, unexpected location. “The casual passer-by will ask, ‘What is that naked iron bloke doing up there?,’” the artist said, “[a question] for which I hope there will never be a single satisfactory answer.”
Know Before You Go
On the roof of Blackwell's Art and Poster Shop (Exeter College), Broad Street