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  1. ITV Report

Angel of the North sculptor speaks of time in prison

The Angel of the North was completed in 1998 Credit: PA images

Angel of the North sculptor Sir Antony Gormley has revealed he was a prisoner in Lebanon under the Al-Fatah, a Palestinian nationalist political party.

Sir Antony told Channel 4 News that he was once mistaken for being a "spy for the opposite side" and was imprisoned in Iraq and in Lebanon.

The 67-year-old also told news presenter Jon Snow that he was held on remand and in isolation in Ashdod, Israel, at the age of 18 for bringing "some drugs back from the Khyber Pass".

Sir Antony said his experience behind bars has inspired his latest offering, an exhibition of works created by prisoners entitled 'Inside' that will be displayed at London's Royal Festival Hall from 21st September.

Sir Antony said of the new exhibition:

I got involved because I was a prisoner in Abu Ghraib for a while in Baghdad. I was a prisoner in Lebanon under the Al-Fatah.

I was just travelling and in both places got taken for being a spy for the opposite side. I also brought some drugs back from the Khyber Pass and ended up in jail at Ashdod for 10 days on remand.

This was a very long time ago. I was 18 at the time and I have this memory of what prison was. I was in isolation in Ashdod.

And it was this place apart, that was part of society but somehow not of it, that ran by its own rules. Not unlike a studio. It's a place where you reflect on your own life and indeed the context of your life generally. And I sort of felt this is an amazing resource.

– Sir Antony Gormley, British sculptor
Sir Antony Gormley at the National Open Art Exhibition at Somerset House, London. Credit: PA images

Sir Antony said the "situation in prisons is dire", and added: "This is a narrow bridge across which those who are inside can talk to us on the outside and tell us what's going on inside their minds and inside their cells."

'Inside' features a collection of works of fine art, design, writing and music from offenders, secure patients and detainees across the UK.