A new artwork for Imperial College London

ALERT is a new artwork created for Imperial College London by one of the UK’s most celebrated artists, Antony Gormley.

The work, a 6-metre-high sculpture created using blocks of weathering steel, evokes the human form and asks us to reassess the relation between the body and space. The weathering steel will naturally form a stable oxide coating and an organic hue over time.

ALERT will occupy a central position on the Dangoor Plaza at our South Kensington Campus. The sculpture is accessible to everyone at Imperial, as well as local residents and visitors, and adds to the cultural richness of our local community.

The artwork was gifted to Imperial by alumnus Brahmal Vasudevan (Aeronautical Engineering 1990) and his wife Shanthi Kandiah.   

Alert sculpture being constructed

Antony Gormley, ALERT 2022 Weathering steel. Photography credit: Matthias Kallage-Schlieter, Heinrich Rohlfing GmbH, Germany

Alert sculpture being constructed

Antony Gormley, ALERT 2022 Weathering steel. Photography credit: Matthias Kallage-Schlieter, Heinrich Rohlfing GmbH, Germany

ALERT is a new artwork created for Imperial by one of the UK’s most celebrated artists, Antony Gormley. The artwork was gifted to Imperial by alumnus Brahmal Vasudevan (Aeronautical Engineering 1990) and his wife Shanthi Kandiah.

Construction of ALERT by Antony Gormley

ALERT is a new artwork created for Imperial by one of the UK’s most celebrated artists, Antony Gormley. The artwork was gifted to Imperial by alumnus Brahmal Vasudevan (Aeronautical Engineering 1990) and his wife Shanthi Kandiah. This video shows the construction process for the artwork.

A statement from the artist, Antony Gormley

Through the conversion of anatomy into an architectural construction, I want to reassess the relation between body and space. Balancing on the balls of the feet while squatting on its haunches and surveying the world around it, the attitude of this sculpture is alive, alert and awake.

Using mass and an irregular load path, I want the dead weight of its 67 tonnes of cast and rolled material to evoke your community of scientific research focused on forming the future. The work will be an objective correlative of the collective vision of the College and a declaration of its life and purpose to the outside world.

The piece acts with the changing nature of the trees. In the summer, the deep red oxidised surface will be in contrast to the vivid green of the plane trees’ leaves and in the winter its orthogonal geometry will act in consort with the organic inscription of their boughs. The work will beckon towards the passers-by on Exhibition Road, providing a point of interest and intrigue, and encouraging a closer look.

I am very excited and delighted to be able to propose this work to the College and hope that it can act as a catalyst for remaking the site as a life-affirming interactive space, open to the wider world.

Antony Gormley

A statement from the donors, Brahmal Vasudevan (Aeronautical Engineering 1990) and Shanthi Kandiah

As a result of Prince Albert’s vision 150 years ago, South Kensington has become an extraordinary area focused on unifying the arts and sciences. We have always had great respect and admiration for what the College stands for, its philosophy and focus on research across science, engineering, medicine and business. In the last few years we have gained an enormous appreciation for the work of Antony Gormley, both for his practice and the science behind his philosophies that he subsequently applies to his work. We felt that uniting the two would bring the best of British art and technology together to further cement the area as one of the most vibrant cultural quarters for future generations.

We are pleased to have worked with JJS Fine Art Ltd, the Gormley studio, White Cube and Imperial College London to bring this project to life. We wish for ALERT to be a lasting reminder to the community of the vital importance of collaboration across disciplines. We are both so delighted and excited to see the sculpture finally installed here on Imperial College Road.

Brahmal Vasudevan and Shanthi Kandiah

A statement from Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London

South Kensington is one of the world's most celebrated cultural districts, and the fusion of art and science has always been at its core. So, we are grateful to Brahmal Vasudevan and Shanthi Kandiah for giving Imperial the opportunity to be the setting for a striking new artwork by one of the UK’s foremost living artists.

Professor Hugh Brady