Waddington Custot Galleries

Bill Woodrow Sculptures 1981 - 1988

Bill Woodrow Sculptures 1981 - 1988

Wednesday, March 23, 2011Tuesday, May 3, 2011


London, United Kingdom

Monday–Friday 10am–6pm
Saturday 10am–1.30pm

Waddington Custot Galleries are pleased to announce an exhibition of 1980s sculptures by British artist, Bill Woodrow. Woodrow came to prominence in the early 1980s with his 'cut-out' sculptures, discarded household appliances which had been "recycled" and given new life. This exhibition includes nineteen 'cut-out' sculptures, dating from 1981 to 1988.

In 1981, having previously made sculptures of extended bicycle frames, Woodrow made a replica bicycle frame, cut from the skin of an old spin dryer. Spin Dryer with Bicycle Frame, 1981, became the first sculpture where Woodrow manipulated and transformed the metal surface of a discarded household appliance, without detaching it, into another, familiar object. The metal exterior of an old spin dryer is cut away, twisted and bent to create the bicycle frame, which emerges from the original form. The host object remains identifiable, whilst the silhouette on the spin dryer reveals how the metal was carefully cut and peeled back.

In Car Door, Armchair and Incident, 1981, the metal from a cut-out car door becomes a shot gun. In turn, an old, battered armchair is blasted and a violent explosion of armchair debris hits the wall and floor behind, linked by a continuous thread of metal and fabric, implying an ominous narrative. As Julia Kelly comments "car leads to gun, chair leads to shooting" (1). This work was a response to the various images of violence Woodrow saw in the media "on a very domestic level or much more militarist, or at a street level."

Whilst Woodrow used found materials from the street and rubbish dumps as they cost nothing, he was also concerned with using these materials because they were from his "life, […] environment, and have some accessibility because of that. They are exciting to use because they are unpredictable." Woodrow was energized by these varied and unconventional materials and the associations conjured up by them.

Born in 1948, Bill Woodrow studied at Winchester School of Arts (1967–1968), St. Martin's School of Art, London (1968–1971) and Chelsea School of Art, London (1971–1972). His first solo exhibition was at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, in 1972. In 1981, he participated in two important group exhibitions that would define a new generation of British sculptors: 'Objects & Sculpture', at Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, and 'British Sculpture in the 20th Century' at Whitechapel Art Gallery. He has shown internationally, including Museum of Modern Art, New York (1984) and Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (1991). He represented Britain at Biennales in Sydney (1982), Paris (1982, 1985) and São Paulo (1983) and in 1986 he was a Turner Prize finalist at Tate Gallery, London. Other solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1983), and in London at Camden Arts Centre (1995), Tate Gallery (1996) and South London Gallery (2001).

Woodrow's work is held in public collections worldwide including The British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and Tate, London; Kunsthaus, Zürich; Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He has several sculptures on permanent installation including Sitting on History (1998) at The British Library, London, and Celloswarm (2005) at Hammersmith Hospital, London. In 2000, his sculpture Regardless of History was placed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. In 2002, he was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts. He lives and works in Hampshire and London.

A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany this exhibition, with an introductory text by Julia Kelly. For further information or images please contact Louise Shorr.

1) see Kelly, Julia: 'Sculpture, bricolage and the art of Bill Woodrow', in Bill Woodrow: Sculpture 1981–1988, Waddington Custot Galleries, London, 2011