Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Field for the British Isles - an exhibition by Antony Gormley

I love unexpected surprises! One way I find these is going somewhere and allowing myself time to wander and just enjoy new possibilities. And this is what happened yesterday. My husband and I were walking past First Sight, a exhibition gallery in Essex. He had never been there I suggested he might like to see where I often disappear to.  

I’m SO glad that I did! Because I have always liked Antony Gormley’s work and didn't know there was a exibition on display here! I lost no time in taking photos from every angle and talking to a curator about the exhibition.  I will leave a link at the end for anyone who wants to know more, but briefly, it represents our ancestors, those who have been here before us; and the unborn who are yet to come. These terracota human forms look up at us, as guardians of the earth, asking 

'What kind of future are you creating for us?' and 

'What kind of world are you making for us?'

At this time of catastrophic fires in Australia, and atrocities around the world, these are salient questions. 

And yet, as people come together we can be powerful. When David Attenburgh highlighted what damage plastic is doing to our earth it started to finally create change and awareness. And who hasn't heard of Greta Thunberg? This 16 year old girl has demonstrated that one person can have a voice. Antony Gormley's approach is more subtle but it says much. 

He didn't want to work in isolation for this art piece and wanted it to be about people. The result is 40,000 terracota clay human forms made by children, their parents, their grandparents, and others who are part of 2 schools in his local community. And since then the exhibition has travelled. And still the people come together. 

30 volunteers spent 3 days solid setting up this display. And that's after walls were built and other spaces opened up. And what you see is literally a sea of 'people' with big eyes looking up. They drift out of view, into different rooms, a powerful image that holds your attention. And in front of you, without barrier, is a row of small people. Different sizes, shape, and colour. A reminder that WE are the guardians of the earth, and that the clay has come from the earth and will one day return to it.

The collection when displayed in a larger area (photo from a video playing).
If ever you get a chance to see this exhibition I recommend it. What made it extra special was not knowing it was there. The surprise element evoked excitement and wanting to know more about it. Because some might see these crude shapes and dismiss them without knowing about the powerful message and meaning behind them. Thank you Antony Gormley for opening my eyes to this.


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