Field for the British Isles by Sir Antony Gormley, creator of the Angel of the North, will be on display at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) at National Glass Centre from July until September 2021.
The monumental installation comprises 40,000 small clay figures and was last in the region 25 years ago when it was on display at the former Greenesfield British Rail Works in Gateshead. More than 25,000 people flocked to the exhibition.
The artwork will be on loan from the prestigious Arts Council Collection, an important national loan collection of modern and contemporary British Art. Sunderland Culture is part of the Collection’s National Partners Programme which supports regional galleries and museums to present and curate exhibitions drawn from the Collection.
The project has been made possible thanks to an £18,000 grant from the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme is the first ever UK-wide funding scheme to enable regional museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.
Field for the British Isles was chosen by Sunderland Culture’s Art Champions, a group of nine local people with no formal arts training but a passion and interest to discover more about modern and contemporary art.
It will be the first time Gormley has exhibited in Sunderland.
Alastair Robinson, director at NGCA, said: “We’re thrilled that such a major installation is coming to the city, and Fields for the British Isles will be the centrepiece of Sunderland Culture’s summer programme to attract audiences from Wearside and across the North East.
“This year marks the NGCA’s 50th anniversary and this is such a marvellous way to mark that milestone. It will also be the first exhibition of sculpture in our new 2,500sq ft gallery at National Glass Centre. I have to say Sunderland Culture’s Art Champions have chosen very
wisely – this is a real coup for the city.
“The Art Champions will be genuinely creatively engaged and supported to become advocates for this work, showcased through film and photography.”
Each one of the installation’s 40,000 figures is unique and simply fashioned, with holes for eyes. The figures completely occupy the space in which they are installed, filling the space so the viewer can look at the figures, but cannot enter the space they occupy. The installation is sited with only a single viewpoint.
Sophia Weston, Trustee of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “It is wonderful to see this major installation by one of our best loved contemporary artists return to the North East for the first time in 25 years, and all the more meaningful because it was chosen by Sunderland Culture’s local Art Champions.
“We are delighted to be able to support this project through our Weston Loan Programme, which is dedicated to supporting regional organisations to secure important loans just like this one.”
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