Phyllida Barlow's untitled: dock: emptystaircasehoarding.
LONDON - We’ve enjoyed a long relationship with the Tate supporting what is now known as the Tate Britain Commission, and used to be the Duveens Commission. Sotheby’s has just formally renewed the relationship again, which will take our involvement with the project to more than a decade. Our support has allowed the commission to become an annual event, featuring fantastically innovative work by Martin Creed (2008), Eva Rothschild (2009), Fiona Banner (2010), Patrick Keiller (2012)and Simon Starling (2013).
This year sculptor Phyllida Barlow has won the commission and on 31 March will unveil her largest and most ambitious work in London, dock 2014. Her comments at the opening on Monday underlined the role of the commission: “Having seen the space evolve over several decades, I’m very excited by the opportunity to work in the Duveen Galleries. Considering a body of new work, I was very conscious of two particular contradictory aspects: the tomb-like interior galleries against the ever-present aspect of the river beyond.”
Installation view of Phyllida Barlow's Tate Commission exhibition.
Barlow is an artist who uses inexpensive everyday materials such as cardboard, fabric, timber, polystyrene, plaster, scrim and cement, to make imposing, large-scale sculptures and installations. Filling the 100 metre-long Duveen Galleries, dock 2014 is comprised of seven interrelated and individually named sculptures, the first part of dock, untitled: dock 5hungblocks, is made of five rectangular forms suspended on wooden frames, drawing inspiration from shipping containers. Next to the stone pillars of the gallery stands untitled: dock: crushedtower, a pastiche of the monumental sculptures that Barlow’s work often reacts to. In the Octagon, the nine-metre high timber-framed untitled: dock: emptystaircasehoarding rises to the gallery cornice forming an unruly barrier. Finally Untitled: dock: 5stockadecrates uses timber frames of varying heights loaded with piles of debris from the artist’s studio.
What I also admire about Barlow is her influence on younger artists through her work and long teaching career in London art schools, for instance at the Slade School of Fine Art, where her students included Turner Prize-winning and nominated artists Rachel Whiteread and Angela de la Cruz.
The Tate have kindly agreed to share a short film showing the development of the commission and giving an insight into Phyllida’s work. The video shows the importance of this commission for promoting British artists, exemplifying why I am so proud that Sotheby’s continues to support it.