Radio review: Roddy Doyle and Antony Gormley in perfect harmony

Nuala McCann

Only Artists Radio 4

Only Artists is Marmite – it's a love/hate thing.

I hate Marmite but I'm not prepared to label this the “twaddle” that one listener did in a recent feedback programme.

Only Artists features two artists in conversation – “no milk, two creative sugars” says the presenter.

But hang on... it all depends on the artists and the chemistry between them.

When it works, it's a little magic.

You only need to go to the episode with writer Roddy Doyle and sculptor Antony Gormley.

Doyle penned wonderful Dublin novels - The Commitments, The Van and Paddy Clarke ha ha ha.

Gormley is the man behind the Angel of the North.

Doyle said he was driving through Newcastle when he noticed the road signs for the Angel.

Road signs for a sculpture? Gormley confessed that he had a wry smile at that.

His colleagues gave him stick about the angel, but the Newcastle fans liked it – didn't they put the Alan Shearer shirt on the Angel.. that was fantastic, said Gormley.

See? You can love football and art.

“I always wanted to make something that was just out there in all weathers, could look after itself and be everybody's,” said Gormley.

And he did.

People have take the Angel to their hearts... all 200 tonnes of rusting ship plate just like the stuff that made the Cunard liners.

“If there's a good north westerly, you can see those wings move,” said Gormley.

The conversation grew wings.

Two men who happened to be artists who happened to be chatting – if anything, they were talking about how they loved to see people respond to their work.

A woman told Roddy Doyle that she went into labour while she was reading his novel, The Van.

He likes to think that she was shaking hard with laughter when her waters broke.

Gormley loves how everyone from children to grannies embrace his work – that flow of human attention.

Marmite? It all depends, but not this conversation, not these two, not The Van and The Snapper and Paddy Clarke.

And not the Angel, massive wings out stretched – just asking us to gaze and wonder and come and adore.

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