THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month
Anthony Gormley and Field, 14th November 2002, The Independent, by Andy Paradise
By Alan Sparrow
If you put 100 volunteers in a room with a large mound of clay, would you feel confident that what will be produced is a work of art? Antony Gormley did. Not only was Field created, it is now in its 30th year.
After an experimental stage asking members of the public to create terracotta figures, he realised that a project of this kind was possible. He gathered more than 100 volunteers from St Helens into a schoolroom in Merseyside and asked them to make figures from a mountain of brick clay, following three simple key rules: "Hand-sized, stand up and have eyes".
Each person was given a board on which to put a lump of soil, a small container of water and a pencil to create the eye holes. They were offered a cushion to sit on and enough floor space, making it easier to arrange the figures in rows of ten for easy counting. 40,000 figures were created, all between eight and 26cms tall.
“The pieces act as a catalyst so that you can tune into the lives that pass through these spaces” Gormley reflects. He hoped that Field would create a “memory of the earth and the spirit of those before us”.
There are other versions of Field, which was originally created by Gormley and 60 members of a family in Mexico in 1991. Field for the British Isles was created in 1993 and was a Turner Prize winner a year later. It is now part of the Arts Council Collection.
Independent photographer Andy Paradise was sent to the British Museum where Field for the British Isles was being displayed for six months between autumn and spring 2002-03. He had joined he Independent newspaper in 2000 after studying at the Kent Institute of Art & Design, staying with the Indy until he left in 2003 to pursue a freelance career.
During his time as a staff photographer he went on a wide variety of assignments from making portraits of A-list American actors to gritty news and politics. After just nine months of professional working he secured himself his first recognition at the Picture Editors Awards for best black and white image of 2000.