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Anish Kapoors sculpture, Turning the World Inside Out, (1997) has been placed in the centre of a prehistoric stone circle, part of a group of stone monuments, collectively known as the Rollright Stones, erected in the Late Neolithic period - around 3000BC. The central grouping is arranged in a circle 33 metres across, commanding the surrounding countryside.

A shimmering steel globe (148 x 184 x 188cm), Turning the World Inside Out embodies Kapoor's preoccupation with cosmic regeneration, evoking female and male Hindu cosmic symbolism. It is loaned from the collection of Cartwright Hall in Bradford.

Anish Kapoor said:
"I enthusiastically support the Art Fund project in its bid to take art out of its usual gallery setting and place it in a different context. I hope this will show that the modern and the ancient have the same intention and will bring new audiences to appreciate the beauty of both".

Review by George Hummer

They were all there: Sixteen cameras manned or womanned by people whose crumpled clothes revealed they had driven from London. All of them, plus others, with mobile phones ringing in an erratic chorus of irritating jingly tunes. A dangerously skinny PR Lady who looked, in shades of beige (including lipstick) from hair to spike-heeled boots, like a dress extra from a Hugh Grant film. The famous Sculptor himself either still and smiling or nervously darting from one place to another, the cameras pointed at him the entire time. Four bulky workmen in puce tee shirts and black jeans, ready for the signal to do the job. A steel plate levelled on sand in the very centre of the circle, measured by steel tape and dowsing rods, ready to receive its burden.

The Rollright Stones near Chipping Norton received their most unusual visitor ever on Monday, 14 July, when a sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Turning the World Inside Out, was installed until August 26th as part of the national celebration called Extraordinary Art, marking the centenary of the National Art Collections Fund. Thankfully too remote a location for a total media circus, the Stones received their visitor with a dignity that appeared to have a calming effect on the press corps. Once revealed, the sculpture gave back a strange fellow-feeling, and that mysterious, immense calm returned to the site, redoubled by this extraordinary work of art.

First, however, the sculpture had to be put in place. An almost-sphere of stainless steel whose normal home is the Cartwright Hall in Bradford, it arrived on a huge, soft-side lorry, accompanied on another lorry by a squat, red and black loader. Wrapped in bands of plastic tape and vivid green straps, the sculpture looked anything but a model of the globe seen through contemplative eyes. The loader lifted it and carried it, suspended, through trees and along a temporary track of large rectangles of heavy plywood. Its driver, for all his tattoos and brawn, handled the machine with the delicacy of a medical technician testing for evidence of life. Setting the piece over its plate, he lowered it until it hovered only an inch or two above ground while Kapoor found the correct orientation and spun it a foot or so until he was satisfied and gave the order to lower it. He wanted it aligned to the compass, an indentation near its top looking to the South. In the hot sun, with the help of five men, he turned it inches further to face the Whispering Knights crouched against their hedgerow some five hundred metres across a golden field. Then he gave the order to take away the harness and unwrap the sculpture.

In this setting, the piece is literally stunning. It is not a sphere but an irregular ovoid of about four feet in diameter, the side almost opposite the indentation being egg-like in its projection. At the indentation, made like a deep dimple for the stem of a fantastical apple, the polished steel takes in all it sees and narrows it down, scooping it into whatever you wish to imagine is inside. On the smoothly curved flanks the stainless steel reflects the sky and the stones and the parched grass, but it changes the image. It has the quality of taking in the light directed at it and clarifying it, returning the reflection with a sense of distance that isnt there in nature. It is the look of complacent detachment and unmotivated satisfaction in a statue of the Buddha. Among the ancient, very English Rollright Stones, this recast deity from another culture looks as if it had come home, and you feel it ought to be emitting a satisfied hum. Maybe it is, if we had the ears to hear it.

All credit to Dohn Prout, administrator and custodian of the site, for seeing the opportunity and inviting this outstanding visitor. Credit too to the sculptor, the owner and the Fund for listening to him and bringing it here. The Rollright Stones are open free to the public on the 19 and 20 July as the Rollright Trusts contribution to National Archaeology Days. On other days, seven days a week from sunrise to sunset, the Stones and their guest can be visited for only 50p. The sculpture will be removed on 26 August and taken to the Hayward Gallery on London's South Bank, where it will reflect what it sees in a show of the major works of art that have been bought during the past century either by or with the help of the National Art Collections Fund. It is almost a shame, because Turning the World Inside Out seems, at the Rollright Stones, to be in its rightful home.

And now the controversy begins.........

Some extracts from an article by Richard Ingrams (of "Oldie" fame) in the Observer on the 27th July....

In an obscure part of Oxfordshire, not far from where I live, is an ancient stone circle, the Rollright Stones, dating from about 2500BC. Should a visitor go there this summer to look at the stones they may be surprised to  to see in the centre of the circle a huge, shining, steel egg-like object, which has made and put there by fashionable "sculptor" Mr Anish Kapoor.  Mr Kapoor says he is hoping, with his giant egg, to make people look at art in new ways.......such is the arrogance of some modern artists that they seem to think they have the right to play about with the masterpieces of former times........It would be specially unfortunate if Mr Kapoor's steel egg were damaged in any way by deranged art lovers. No doubt they are having to guard it night and day at considerable expense to local ratepayers.

Our own George Hummer has replied. Lets see if the Observer publish his letter:


In an obscure corner of last Sundays Observer, under the heading Rotten Egg, the elderly Richard Ingram demonstrated triumphantly that a journalist needs neither facts nor direct observation to write a nasty little piece of fogeyish invective using only press handouts and misleading photos.

If Ingram had actually gone to the Rollright Stones (not far from where he lives, he says) to see Anish Kapoors sculpture, he might not have made such a fool of himself. Kapoors work is not a sculpture with wink-nudge punctuation, but the real thing. It is not an egg, the sculpture having a deep indentation that gives point and beauty to it which, unfortunately for Ingram, didnt show up in the photograph he was consulting. He would also have found at the Stones that the piece is not huge, and he would have seen for himself exactly what the precise connection is between the trendy [sic] Mr Kapoor and our Neolithic ancestors. And if he had asked, he would have been told that the guarding of the sculpture against deranged oldies is at no expense whatsoever to the ratepayers.

The sculpture is here until 26 August. It costs only 50p to get onto the site, and pathetic old geezers are frequently able to wheedle their way in for nothing.