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ASTRAGAL

Sculptors were on good form at the Royal Academy this week, in the first of a twopart event called 'The City as Sculpture - from skyline to plinth'.

Phyllida Barlow and Anthony Gormley gave spirited talks, both of which noted the dearth of contemporary sculpture in the city, the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square becoming a metaphor and an example of this absence (plans for the plinth are still obscure).

Critic Richard Cork introduced, and wondered whether architects didn't feel that art somehow sullied their buildings. Gormley was clear about this: 'Good architecture doesn't need art, ' though he accepted that it could could contribute to the articulation of materials, or act as a sort of 'wayfinder'. This is just as well, since he is working on a sculpture for the exterior of Sandy Wilson's British Library. Architect academicians who took part in a lively discussion included Richard MacCormac, Ian Ritchie and Ted Cullinan. Part two takes place on 25 February, with architects doing the presenting.

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