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Antony Gormley: Blind Light at The Hayward

James Hatts

You've seen the rooftop sculptures around the South Bank; now The Hayward has opened its doors for the first major London exhibition of Antony Gormley's work.

The Blind Light installation
The Blind Light installation
Blind Light
Blind Light
Event Horizon by Antony Gormley
Event Horizon is best viewed from the Hayward sculpture terraces

Although The Hayward has been filled with some 200 tonnes of sculpture, the biggest talking point will undoubtedly be Blind Light, the luminous glass box filled with mist to which your attention is immediately drawn in the otherwise unlit lower galleries.

It is, says Gormley, "a work in which the viewer becomes the subject". Comparisons with the various participatory installations in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall such as Olafur Eliasson's 2003 Weather Project are spoiled only by the fact that admission to the Tate is free but it costs 8 to visit The Hayward.

The effect of stepping into the mist is undoubtedly a powerful one as visitors (well, journalists at the press view, at least) instinctively formed an orderly one-way system to file round the edges of the box, keeping one hand on the glass for reassurance.

Gormley says that the exhibition deals with "the dialogue between inside experience and outside experience".

As well as the site-specific work on nearby rooftops one of the works inside the gallery has a local South Bank connection. Gormley's 1996 work Allotment II – made up of 300 concrete blocks based on the dimensions of people aged 1 to 80 – is described by the artist as a "tribute to the National Theatre". Gormley had contacted the theatre's architect Denys Lasdun to find out the specifications of the concrete used for the National and had replicated the same mix for Allotment II.

The upstairs sculpture terraces are the ideal viewing point for Event Horizon. "The people of London didn't ask to have their skyline infected by 27 foreign bodies," says Gormley. "Therefore I have a responsibility to tell them my reasons for wanting to cause that infection."

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