Tate St Ives is showing a challenging group of sculptural works by Antony
Gormley. The entire gallery space will be devoted to four major installations: Bed (1981);
Field for the British Isles (1993); Still (1994) and Critical Mass (1995). Gormley is one
of Britain's most important contemporary sculptors and this exhibition of his work at Tate
St Ives will be the largest display of works by one artist ever to be shown at the gallery.
The sculptures are dramatic installations that explore the connection between physical
and metaphysical self and the body in relation to history and place. Field was made by a
group of volunteers who were invited by Gormley to create a multitude of small figures out
of thirty tons of clay, which were fired and placed to fill the gallery space.
Each figure is unique, deriving its scale and shape from the hand of the person who
made it. At Tate St Ives forty thousand figures face towards the viewer and this myriad of
watching eyes is a haunting and emotional experience.
Field is a national touring exhibition organised by the Hayward Gallery for the Arts
Council of England.
Critical Mass is a group of sixty solid iron figures taken from the artist's own body and
forming a lexicon of twelve basic positions from foetal to upright, which will be placed in
the circular sea-facing gallery at Tate St Ives. 'Critical mass' is a term in physics for the
necessary density in uranium for nuclear fission to take place. This installation acts
against a background of modernism, in which the body lost its place in art and was
alienated through industrialisation and war.
Still is a single lead body case of the artist's daughter at the age of six days, and will be
shown in isolation. Bed is made out of 12000 slices of bread arranged in layers out of
which the artist has eaten his own volume in two halves and refers to the idea of
stratification as in 'bedrock'.
In Artists on Artists, an initiative which allows artists to choose works from the Tate
Collection that they find inspirational, Gormley has chosen a selection of works by
Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo, which will be complemented by a text
he has written.
Antony Gormley was born in 1950 in London, where he continues to live and work.
There will be a publication to coincide with the exhibition, with essays by Will Self and
Professor Stephen Levinson and an interview between the artist and Iwona Blazwick.
There is also a programme of events planned around the exhibition.
The exhibition is generously supported by the Henry Moore Foundation.
Field for the British Isles, 1993
Courtesy of the Arts Council Collection,
Copyright Antony Gormley 2001