In what is another spectacular artistic coup, Colchester's Firstsite art gallery is getting ready to stage one of the country's most important art works.

That's Antony Gormley's Field for the British Isles, which consists of 40,000 tiny individual terracotta figures, spread across the floor, created by various members of the community in St Helens, Lancashire.

First shown back in 1993 at Tate Liverpool, this will be the 24th time the original field has been exhibited, and the second time in Colchester, when it was installed in the old Keddies building on Queen Street back in 1999.

Gormley, who won the Turner Prize in 1994 after this work was created, currently has a major solo exhibition at The Royal Academy and is perhaps best known for his Angel of the North sculpture in Gateshead and Another Place, which consists of 100 cast-iron, life-size figures spread out along three kilometres of the foreshore at Crosby Beach, Liverpool, stretching almost one kilometre out to sea.

Field for The British Isles was made by Gormley in 1993 from a mountain of brick clay with more than 100 volunteers who were invited to find their own form for each figure following three simple instructions: 'hand-sized, stand up and have eyes'.

After being acquired by the Arts Council Collection in 1995, Field for the British Isles has been exhibited at a variety of venues across the UK, including Salisbury Cathedral, Greenesfield BR Works in Gateshead, The British Museum and Tate Liverpool.

At each location, the configuration of Field is changed to suit the space, but the thousands of small figures are always installed to resemble a dense carpet, with each figure looking directly at the viewer.

Following a four day installation by a group of volunteers including a local Bangladeshi Women's Group; art foundation students from Colchester Institute; and former British Army Ghurkas, Colchester's new Field will be ready for the special private view tonight, November 15, after which it will be open to the public until March 8.

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