Phyllida Barlow: Sculpture and Drawings from the Leeds Collection
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
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Working with mass produced materials and ad hoc processes, Barlow creates objects that are at once playful and strange, abstract and anthropomorphic, from hand-sized works to monumental commissions.
Two sculptures newly acquired by the Leeds Collections are on display here, alongside works on paper.
This display presents sculpture and drawings by Phyllida Barlow (b. 1944), the ‘provocateur’ for this year’s Yorkshire Sculpture International. It includes HOLD (1986-89) and untitled: venicecolumns; 2017-2017 (2016-17) which were presented to the collection in 2019 by the Contemporary Art Society through a special partnership supported by the Henry Moore Foundation and Cathy Wills.
The exhibition celebrates Barlow’s long-standing connection with the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Museums and Galleries; and with Yorkshire, which started in the late 1980s and 1990s, when she created two large-scale works for derelict spaces within the old mill complex at Dean Clough in Halifax.
Untitled: venicecolumns; 2016-2017 relates to folly (2017), her major commission for the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. It is a collection of models for seven giant, stacked columns that occupied the central part of the Pavilion, made in the same materials – including cement, concrete, hessian, polyurethane foam and plywood – but on a smaller scale. The columns are grouped on a platform, which could be a stage presenting what Barlow has described as ‘a drama of objects’, or a work bench reminding us of their origins in the artist’s earlier and ongoing studio practice.
A glass form wrapped in canvas, soaked in black bitumen and acquaseal rubber, HOLD is a relatively early example of the artist’s making practice, made in her studio.
Alongside HOLD and untitled: venicecolumns; 2016-2017, the display presents works on paper by Barlow, acquired for the collection in the 2000s, which map her practice across four decades.
The drawings focus on two distinct periods of activity: the mid-1970s to early 1980s, characterised by monochrome, geometrical explorations of interior space; and the 1990s to early 2000s, which are coloured paintings of constructed and assembled objects, and urban landscapes recreated from memory.