Field for the British Isles


Antony Gormley
''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 on 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, by students and families in Sweden. Adrian Searle, 'Antony Gormley: Field for the British Isles', Spotlight from the Arts Council Collection broadsheet, 1996
  • Artwork Details: variable
  • Edition:
  • Material description: terracotta
  • Credit line: © the artist. Acquired in 1995 with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund and The Henry Moore Foundation.
  • Theme: Figurative
  • Medium: Installation
  • Accession number: ACC10/1995

Explore this Artwork

Field for the British Isles is one of Antony Gormley’s best-loved works of art, featuring 40,000 clay figures.  In 1996 Field was purchased by the Arts Council Collection, with the support of the Henry Moore Foundation and the National Art Fund.  Since its acquisition Field has been seen by over 500,000 visitors in Aberystwyth, Carlisle, Colchester, Gateshead, Gloucester, Lincoln, London, Salisbury, Sheffield, Shrewsbury, St Ives, Yorkshire, St Helens, Somerset and in venues as diverse as a trainshed, a church, a cathedral, a gallery, and a warehouse.

Winner of the 1994 Turner Prize, Antony Gormley is renowned for his distinctive representations of the human form. Gormley has described Field as ‘...twenty-five tons of clay energised by fire, sensitised by touch and made conscious by being given eyes...a field of gazes which looks at the observer making him or her its subject’. 

This arresting installation comprises a sea of miniature terracotta figures, clustered together. Some stand out because of their size and character, others are greyer than the earthy reds of the majority. The overall sight is both captivating and mesmerising.

The figures were handmade by 100 people, aged seven to 70, from a community in St Helen’s, Merseyside in 1993.  Every time Field is exhibited it takes about a week to install by a team of volunteers.


> MORE: Download the Field for the British Isles Education Pack here


The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.