Phyllida Barlow


25 May 2024 – 5 January 2025

Curated by Frances Morris


In ‘unscripted,’ the work of Phyllida Barlow (1944 – 2023) will take over Hauser & Wirth Somerset in a celebration of the British artist’s transformative approach to sculpture, marking the 10th anniversary of the arts center that was inaugurated by Barlow’s solo exhibition ‘GIG’ in 2014. The landmark exhibition, curated by Frances Morris, draws on her close working relationship with the artist during her lifetime. The presentation will explore the evolution of Barlow’s formal and expressive vocabulary, bringing together singular sculptures, installations, studio maquettes and drawings from her extensive career, some of which will be on public view for the first time.

‘Over the last 10 years, Phyllida Barlow kept her fans and followers on the edge of their seats as she brought new and ever more audacious projects to life in venues across the world. Unfolding as a running commentary on the tragedies and absurdities of our time, each work formed part of an ongoing and intensely experimental investigation into the techniques and materials of art making, seeking visual equivalents to her own personal experience of living and looking.’—Frances Morris

Over a career that spanned six decades, Barlow took inspiration from her surroundings to create imposing installations that can be at once menacing and playful. Barlow’s restless invented forms stretch the limits of mass, volume and height as they block, straddle and balance precariously. The audience is challenged into a new relationship with the sculptural object, the gallery environment and the world beyond. Barlow exhibited extensively across institutions internationally, including: Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto, Canada (2023); Public Art Fund, New York NY (2023); Chillida Leku, Hernani, Spain (2023); Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany (2022); ARTIST ROOMS, Tate Modern, London, UK (2021); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2021); The Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK (2019); La Biennale di Venezia, British Pavilion, Venice, Italy (2017); Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland (2016); Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas TX (2015); Duveen Commission at Tate Britain, London, UK (2014). In 2022, Barlow was awarded the Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung’s Kurt Schwitters Prize.

Coinciding with the exhibition, our Learning program will include activities such as workshops and tours, as well as our annual Bristol Old Vic Youth Theatre Summer School, all taking inspiration from Barlow’s work. Our Education Lab, ‘Art School,’ will provide a dynamic platform for a wide range of learning across our communities. Participants will have a space to learn new skills, share knowledge and display new ideas in relation to the themes and processes presented within the exhibition.

Image: untitled: folly; awnings; 2016/2017 (detail), 2016 – 2017, ‘Phyllida Barlow. folly,’ British Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale, Italy, 2017 © Phyllida Barlow Estate / British Council. Photo: Ruth Clark 

About the Artist

Phyllida Barlow

For almost 60 years, British artist Phyllida Barlow took inspiration from her surroundings to create imposing installations that can be at once menacing and playful. She created large-scale yet anti-monumental sculptures from inexpensive, low-grade materials such as cardboard, fabric, plywood, polystyrene, scrim, plaster and cement. These constructions were often painted...

Current Exhibitions