It must be great to be an artist like Antony Gormley. Come up with a fantastic idea, but then leave others — the fabricators — to do all the hard work of making it a reality. Persuading a hundred or so locals to make 40,000 figures ticks all the right community involvement boxes and so is the kind of thing that’s almost guaranteed to get funding.
But more importantly Field for the British Isles really is great art; a floorspace rendered invisible by 40,000 staring individuals This is a work to meditate on.
Sadly, Saturday was Field for the British Isles’ last day in St. Helens. The sole exhibit at St Helens College, first we saw the work then we read up on it, then we saw it again. St Helens is rather grim (but has some great public art on the approach roads including the Anderton Mining Monument) and the locals pictured making terracota figures look like they were taken in the the 1970s or maybe 80s rather then the 1990s; all cloth caps and curly perms.
Sadly, you’re stuck with a picture of the college as photography is strictly prohibited. Given that the work is not likely to be damaged by flash and is now the property of Arts Council England this is plain wrong. Field for the British Isles belongs to the people and if we want to photograph it, we should be allowed to.