Most beaches are left empty when the fall and winter seasons come, but Crosby Beach in Sefton, England will always have a hundred people year round; only they’re not made of skin, muscle and bones, but of cast iron. Crosby Beach is one of the most remarkable beaches in the world because it is home to 100 life-size sculptures popular known as the Iron Men.
This collection of cast-iron figures is formally called “Another Place”, and it was created by British artist Antony Gormley. The art installation stretches 2 miles along Crosby Beach, with the sculptures standing in isolation from each other, looking out into the sea. In the picture below, we can see just how far apart the figures are from one another, because the other figures farther away are mere specks.
"Another Place" is a unique art installation because Gormley actually used his own body as the mold for the sculptures, making them anatomically accurate. He must be a tall guy because the statues are 189 cm tall – but he wouldn’t be as heavy as the statues, which weigh around 650 kg each!
"Another Place" was already exhibited in Belgium, Germany and Norway before it was permanently installed at Crosby Beach, which almost didn't happen at all. The figures were supposed to be shipped to New York in 2006, but the local people campaigned for them to stay right in their homeland. So "Another Place" never made it to New York, and in 2007 permission was granted for a permanent installation at Crosby Beach.
These statues can be very good indicators of whether it is high tide or low tide. During low tide, even the pedestals the figures are standing on can be seen.
During high tide, the statues can be buried up to their thighs. Some can even be completely submerged.
Visitors even make their own art by adding objects to the Iron Men, such as a shopping cart or a pair of shades.
Here, one of the statues at Crosby Beach looks like it has just been for its weekly shop!
Because of the changing seasons and exposure to natural elements such as the sun, wind and saltwater, some of the statues have changed in appearance, and probably in chemical composition, too. Here, we can see a close-up showing how rusty and tarnished some of them have become. Look at how the exterior is flaking off due to oxidation.
Some statues are even covered with lots of moss, seaweed or sand.
Not only is "Another Place" an aesthetic pleasure, it is also the subject of a scientific study. Scientists are looking at the statues to observe how some organisms inhabit an object and make it their habitat. Barnacles, the cousins of crabs, are said to reside around some of the iron figures.
Away from Crosby Beach, you can also see more of these Iron Men around Britain. Jesus College, Cambridge, for example, is another home to Gormley’s art – a piece he calls “Sculpture in the Close”. In this picture, we can see a lone statue lying face down, while in another picture, several iron figures are piled up randomly.
Probably the best time to visit Crosby Beach is during the fall and wintertime, when there won’t be any crowds, and you can take good pictures of the sculptures. So put your jacket on and head over to Crosby Beach and visit the Iron Men this coming autumn.