On Crosby beach a few miles north of the City of Liverpool there is a spectacular sculpture unlike any other.
This is known as ‘Another Place’ by the world-famous sculpture Anthony Gormley. Gormley was responsible for the famous sculpture ‘The Angel of the North’ in 1998.
Crosby beach stretches for over two miles where the River Mersey estuary meets the Irish Sea. The famous silhouette skyline of the city of Liverpool can be seen in the distance on the horizon.
Another Place consists of 100 cast-iron, life-size figures spread out along three kilometres of the foreshore, stretching almost one kilometre out to sea.
The now iconic figures, each one weighing 650 kilos, are made from casts of the artist’s own body standing on the beach, all of them looking out to sea, staring at the horizon in silent expectation.
Twice a day most of these statues are invisible to the human eye as they are covered by the incoming tide.
Gormley once said:
I think there’s that thing in Another Place of looking out. It’s what we all do: that’s why people go to the seaside, to see the edge of the world, because most of us spend most of our time in rooms.Anthony Gormley
It is certainly a surreal sight and one which not only inspires but also allows deep contemplation.
Another Place harnesses the ebb and flow of the tide to explore man’s relationship with nature.
“The seaside is a good place to do this. Here time is tested by tide, architecture by the elements and the prevalence of sky seems to question the earth’s substance. In this work human life is tested against planetary time. This sculpture exposes to light and time the nakedness of a particular and peculiar body. It is no hero, no ideal, just the industrially reproduced body of a middle-aged man trying to remain standing and trying to breathe, facing a horizon busy with ships moving materials and manufactured things around the planet.”Anthony Gormley
As you gaze on the figures facing out to sea you become aware of all of the souls who have done the same before you, all of those lost at sea and all of those coming to start a new life, wherever that may be in the spirit of hope.
Interestingly, the beach is also a fascinating, archaeologically valuable wreckage from World War II. There is a deep history in the unsightly rubble dumped here which was once all part of the original great City of Liverpool.
From August 1940 to May 1941, Liverpool was bombed heavily by the Luftwaffe, Nazi Germany’s air force, as part of The Blitz, where the Germans conducted mass air attacks against major industrial and military targets, as well as strategic towns and cities, across the United Kingdom.
Liverpool was targeted because of its port, which was the largest on the west coast and of significant importance to the British war effort. Liverpool became the second hardest hit after London during The Blitz, with 4,000 dead and 70,000 people made homeless. The bombing flattened over 6,500 houses as well as thousands of shops, offices, hospitals and factories.
After the war ended, the city began clearing its streets of rubble and dumped them on Crosby Beach as a barrier to prevent coastal erosion, where it remains today. Walking along the coast, you can still pick out the beautifully carved stones and brickwork that once adorned Liverpool’s banks, offices, hotels, and peoples homes.
Since the rubble has languished down the decades, its edges softening with every tide. Some curious souls wander among what used to be Liverpool, according David Lewis, a writer and Liverpool native who wrote about the rubble in his The War Memorial in the Sea.
“Visitors pick over the site, but most are unaware of the history,” he says. “It’s not a very attractive place. To the unknowing eye it looks like a few hundred meters of illegally dumped builders’ rubble!”
“Every stone comes from a bombed building, every brick comes from a bombed house, perhaps from a house where people died. And so this long field of stones and bricks is a war memorial,”
For the past couple of years, an archaeology student at the University of Durham, Emma Marsh, has been trying to identify the origin of thousands of pieces of debris on Crosby Beach.
“I can see people’s lives, people’s homes amongst this rubble,” Emma notes.
It is truly fascinating to think what these stones and artefacts once were and what they perhaps once adorned and witnessed.
They now lie here, in Another Place, slowly being eroded by the ebb and flow of each passing tide and of the hands of time, much like the sculptures which stand, steadfast in the face of both, a few hundred yards in the distance.