Antony Gormley’s ‘Field for the British Isles’ is a startling and arresting sight: thousands of unglazed, fired, small clay figures, huddled together, all staring towards the viewer and filling a large enclosed space. There are more figures than can be counted, disappearing out of sight and their number seems to be endless.
‘‘Field’ is like a living organism" Gormley has said, "like water it settles in place, it doesn’t organise it." This close-packed crowd, a field, a sea at one’s feet, is a reminder that the world’s entire population could stand on the Isle of Wight shoulder to shoulder, if they were packed as closely as this. Gormley has said that one of the resonances of this work is that it is a reminder that there is only one humanity.
The several versions of ‘Field’ mark both a departure from Gormley’s habitual working practice, and a different way of looking at human presence. The figures were made, in this instance, by a community of families in Merseyside, under Gormley’s direction, using brick clay. Other versions of ‘Field’ have been made by families of brick makers in Mexico, by children in the Amazon basin, and by students and families in Sweden and China.