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Out & About: From Jeff Koons to Antony Gormley

This week we have packed in the art, all the way from Bilbao to London.

We love visiting the Guggenheim every September and our favourite permanent exhibit is ‘Puppy’ by Jeff Koons, who sits outside to welcome us. This West Highland terrier’s coat consists of approximately 38,000 flowers. We saw ‘Puppy’ just before all the flowers are replaced in October, and then again in May.

Like all of Jeff Koon’s sculptures, this one is made possible by a clever feat of engineering, including five levels of scaffolding with a network of pipes to feed and water the plants. A concrete base anchors a stainless steel substructure covered by turf, wire mesh and geo-textile fabric securing the turf and stimulating plant growth. This playful sculpture combines all things we love: colour, nature and dogs.

Back in London, we visited the Royal Academy to see the new retrospective of Antony Gormley’s work. It is a playful yet monumental experimentation with space.

Throughout the exhibition you are encouraged to bob and weave through a giant sculpture named ‘Clearing’. It is made from aluminium tubes, with coils of metal expanding to the corners of the floor, walls and ceiling.

‘Matrix III’ is a mesmerising steel mesh labyrinth. It hangs from the ceiling and is equivalent to the average size of a European new build bedroom. Gormley has described ‘Matrix III’ as ‘the ghost of the environment we’ve all chosen to accept as our primary habitat’.

‘Lost Horizon’ is an eerie display of Gormley’s cast iron figures – gravity is defied as the figures are mounted on the walls and ceiling.

Then you stoop into a small dark tunnel called ‘The Cave’, which emerges into a large chamber with light shaping the structure. There is something very calming about the experience. ‘The Cave’ is a sculpture on architectural scale. The acoustic quality of the hard, rolled steel produces echoes inside and reverberations outside.

The final gallery has been submerged between earth and seawater; the air smells like the cool ocean air. There is something very otherworldly about ‘The Host’. This work has been created a number of times over the past three decades. You stand on the threshold of an expense of clay and seawater, a stark contrast against the gilded ceiling of the 19th century gallery.

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