The following article first appeared in SAGA Magazine, March 2010
Annie Field swapped her pressured career in London for
a studio in Devon. She lives near Exeter with her husband
of nine years and has one stepdaughter and two grandchildren.
Annie Field always knew she wanted to go to art college, but her
mother insisted she should get a job. "I did what I was told and
by the age of nineteen I was working with an interior designer. I didn't
stop working for the next thirty-two years". During that time she acquired
an international clientele and a shop, Sloane Decorators, in Chelsea. In
the late Nineties she became one of television's leading celebrities
when, with the interior designer Jane Churchill, she presented ITV's
Finishing Touches, a series in which the duo looked at the work of
artisans and how to re-create it. "I was having a fantastic life. Many
of my clients gave me a completely free hand and I was travelling all
over the world."
She reached her fifties and met the man she would later marry, industrialist
Sir Malcolm Field. As their romance blossomed, her business suffered a
series of setbacks. The lease on the shop expired and both her
assistant and her secretary gave in their notice. 'I said to Malcolm, 'I'll
have to start all over again.' He very sweetly said 'You don't have to.'"
She thought at last she would have time to paint, but fate stepped in. She dislocated
a finger and a friend recommended an independent practitioner in Devon to
straighten it out. "It turned out that she was a stress counsellor and I
realized that there had been a mistake. I made to leave, but she insisted
I stay and said she would read my 'aura'." The woman began to describe
her life: "She saw Malcolm, she saw happiness, she saw a complete
career change. She said she saw sculpture, and that really made me sit up"
So convincing was she that Annie changed her plans and enrolled in the
Sculpture Academy in south-east London. "I felt so free. I was completely
obsessed, driven. I kept experimenting, until I decided to work with
plaster and clay." She had modelled one head - "a boy in sculpture
school, whom I did sleeping, because I couldn't do eyes". Then her
close friend Liz Anderson, the companion of the late Bernard Levin,
the eminent journalist, commissioned her to do a bust of his head.
"When she first saw it her face broke into a broad smile." That kick-started a
career and now Annie, who always works from life, typically has three or
four commissions on the go. "I have so many ideas whirling round my head I
have to keep a check on myself".
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