Just inside the door of the library. Quote from Wikipedia.
Bill Woodrow's Sitting on History (1995) was purchased for the British Library by Carl Djerassi and Diane Middlebrook in 1997. The sculpture, with its ball and chain, refers to the book as the captor of information from which we cannot escape. Wikipedia
Quote from Wikipedia. Cat 2,121-2
The sculpture is based on William Blake's 1795 print of Newton: Personification of Man Limited by Reason, which depicts a naked Isaac Newton sitting on ledge beside a mossy rock face while measuring with a pair of compasses or dividers. The print was intended by Blake to criticise Newton's profane knowledge, usurping the sacred knowledge and power of the creator Urizen, with the scientist turning away from nature to focus on his books.
Paolozzi had admired Blake since viewing a large print of Newton at the Tate Gallery in the 1940s. He was also a friend of Colin St John Wilson, the architect of the British Library, since they both participated in the This is Tomorrow exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1956. Wilson intended to site a seated sculpture at the junction of the two main axes in the piazza of his library. Paolozzi was then working on a sculpture of Newton, and he was commissioned to create the sculpture for the library. The new library was constructed from 1982 to 1999, and the sculpture was installed in 1995.
The sculpture includes self-portrait of Paolozzi as the naked Newton, measuring the universe with his dividers. The eyes were copied from Michelangelo's David. It can be interpreted as symbolising a confluence of the two cultures, the arts and the sciences, and illustrating how Newton changed our view of the world to one determined by mathematical laws. The sculpture makes the body resemble a mechanical object, joined with bolts at the shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles. The sculptures shows the visible seams of Paolozzi's technique of dividing his model and reassembling the pieces, for example on the head. Wikipedia
The first of two rather ordinary Gormley pieces outside the British Library. The quote is from ArtDesignCafé. Cat 2,123-5
In July 2002, Antony Gormley installed Planets, eight boulders with incised human forms placed on existing plinths around a circular space in the front plaza of the British Library. According to Gormley, “The work celebrates the dependency of the body on the material world in this library, which is the repository of the fruits of the mind.” The positioning on the plinths makes an orbit that fits into the architectural setting, while the human forms are visible from a central point inside the circle.
Formed by successive ice ages, these boulders— from pre-Cambrian gneisse to Devonian granites and diabases— were selected from a quarry in southern Sweden. Ranging from approximately 350 to 1,000 million years old, their origin is believed to be in what is now northern Sweden or Norway. Gormley chose boulders with the colors and textures he liked best, orginially working with 12. In addition to his studio art training, Antony Gormley completed a degree in archaeology, anthropology, and art history at Trinity College, University of Cambridge.
After the stones were transported to London, they were gripped by models— people with whom Antony Gormley works and family members, including his wife and one of his daughters. While the models clasped onto the stones, Gormley outlined their figures in chalk, and afterwards the stones were carved with representations of the bodies. Eight were selected.
Originally commissioned in 1986, Planets took a number of years to install due to funding difficulties. Meanwhile, Antony Gormley stopped working with stone later in the 1980s. According to Projects Coordinator Isabel King from Gormley’s studio: “Planets is one of his very early pieces. Antony was given the opportunity to reconsider the design, but he felt that Planets was the best thing. He was quite excited to go back to carving in stone, something he doesn’t do anymore. He was pleased to have that chance.”
With its orbit, planets, ancient stones, and incised human forms, Planets refers to timeless connections between man and environment and the physical properties and natural elements that they share. To celebrate the installation of Planets, poet Simon Armitage, who has worked with Antony Gormley in the past, was commissioned by the British Library to write a poem, “Entrance,” inspired by the sculpture. artdesigncafe.com
Quote from Culture24. Cat 2,126-7
An empty chair symbolising imprisoned writers around the world will stand permanently in the courtyard entrance to the British Library in London in a new commission by Antony Gormley for literature champions English PEN.
Witness, a lifesize cast iron version of the chair symbol used by PEN during its work with confined creative wordsmiths around the world during the past 30 years, has been made by the celebrated sculptor to mark the 90th anniversary of the organisation. culture24.org.uk