Clare Moriarty of Citizens Advice pushes the boundaries of our feature by choosing not a painting, but a sculpture. Or rather, a series of thousands of sculptures: Anthony Gormley's 'Field for the British Isles'.
Clare Moriarty on Field for the British Isles by Antony Gormley
‘I was captivated by this work when I encountered it in Dublin in 1994 — its second-ever installation — and made a point of revisiting it in London nearly 10 years later. I love its scale and variation, the way it fills space and how it speaks of connection, people and place. It’s rooted in the Merseyside community that produced the figures, but is not constrained by those roots.
‘Each installation is the same Field and also different — unique to its location, connected to the first Field and to Antony Gormley’s other Fields, created across the world from Sweden to Brazil to China’
Clare Moriarty is the chief executive of Citizens Advice and a former British civil servant.
Charlotte Mullins comments on Field for the British Isles
Stretching across the floor as far as the eye can see are tiny clay figures. They stand no taller than a ruler, their knobbly bodies topped by simplified heads, two close-set eyes peering up at you. Each of the 40,000 figures looks your way, expectant, questioning, crowding together to form a single work of art: Antony Gormley’s Field for the British Isles.
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Mr Gormley is a sculptor who, since the 1970s, has used his own body as a mould to explore what it means to be a human in the world. His figures have been submerged in the sea, encased in lead, pushed towards abstraction and exploded into quantum fragments. But Field is different. It was created in 1993 for Tate Liverpool and required a collaborative approach. One hundred local volunteers worked eight-hour shifts crafting the tiny figures. Instructions were scant: make a figure that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand; use a pencil to push two eyes into the clay and give it consciousness. Now repeat.
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Since 1993, Field has been exhibited across the British Isles, from Colchester and Salisbury to Gateshead and Dublin. Each installation alters the arrangement of figures, but they always fill the entire gallery space, the viewer pushed out and only able to marvel at them from the sidelines. Made from the earth’s clay, these figures connect to our ancestors and those yet to be born and ask us to take collective responsibility for the world we live in.
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