Asian Field, a vast sculptural installation comprising some 190,000 hand-sized clay figures, was made under the guidance of the artist by 350 people of all ages from Xiangshan village, north-east of the city of Guangzhou in south China.  Using local clay from Guangdong Province, famous throughout China for its rich red colouring, the making took place during an intensive five-day period between 18 and 22 January 2003.  The figures were then fired in the kilns of a local brick-making factory in readiness for the first showing of the work in Guangzhou, opening in March 2003, where it was shown for three months prior to touring to Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing throughout 2003 and early 2004.

Antony Gormley has been committed to Field as an ongoing project since 1989, and to date he has made different versions working with local communities throughout the world, from the Brazilian Rain Forest to Northern Europe:   

"Field is part of a global project in which the earth of a particular region is given form by a group of local people of all ages.  It is made of clay, energised by fire, sensitised by touch and made conscious by being given eyes".    

Field has raised issues about the relationship between art, society and the environment, and in the collaborative process of its making it has expanded art from being a form of self-expression to one of collective consciousness.  China, with its ancient civilisation, vast land mass and agrarian culture, has provided both a major source of inspiration and a great challenge, and the Asian Field is the most ambitious project of its kind ever undertaken - with 190,000 figures it is almost five times larger than any of its predecessors.

Requiring a minimum of 2000 square metres for the installation, the work was shown in non-art venues in each of the four cities: a vast underground car park located in a new development of houses and apartments in the rapidly expanding city of Guangzhou; the main hall of the National Museum of Modern Chinese History on Tianamen Square in the heart of Beijing; an upper floor in a riverside warehouse providing grain and rice to feed the people of Shanghai; and a cavernous former underground air-raid shelter in central Chongqing.

The British Council published a fully illustrated book documenting the making and showing of the work.  It included a photographic diary of the making by the artist Zhang Haier; newly commissioned texts by political philosopher Richard Noble; curator and writer on art Hu Fang; and an interview between Antony Gormley and fellow sculptor Sui Jian Guo.  

Asian Field was the first major event of Think UK, a campaign running throughout 2003 presenting a series of high profile arts events designed to focus attention on British originality, creativity and innovation.