I visited Wakehurst Place last month, and for the first time explored the Millennium Seed Bank. (More about that another time). Next to the Seed Bank was a display of terracotta figures, entitled ‘School Fields for Mid-Sussex’. It was a project based on Anthony Gormley’s ‘Fields’ sculptures. About 1350 children and young people aged between 2 and 19 from four local schools in Burgess Hill, were given a lump of clay. (The town of Burgess Hill was founded on the pottery industry, using clay from the locality, and one of the schools is built on the site of a former pottery.) Each child, whatever their age or ability – and some had profound and multiple learning difficulties – then made a simple figure, using seeds and plants to make impressions into the clay, hence making a connection to the Millennium Seed Bank. The figures were then fired to make them withstand being in the open air, and lined up as you can see from the pictures below. The figures are often crude, but quite beautiful, some with perceptive and intricate detail. All the figures had eyes, and basic features, and I noticed one with a baby in its tummy, another appeared to have a Mohican haircut, and others had textured clothing. I found them all incredibly moving.
I encourage you to look closely at these figures, and be amazed and moved as I was, at the perception of these children, and the diversity and creativity of their sculptures.
Please note that the figures were due to be returned to the schools in mid September.