Entertainment & Arts

Phyllida Barlow to represent Britain at Venice Biennale

Phyllida Barlow Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Phyllida Barlow was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in February 2016

Sculptor Phyllida Barlow has been selected to represent Britain at the 57th Venice International Art Biennale.

The Newcastle-born sculptor, known for her large installations, was recently made a CBE for services to art.

She will present a major solo show in the British Pavilion at what is seen as the most important contemporary art festival in the world from 13 May to 26 November 2017.

Barlow said it was "an extraordinary privilege and honour".

"I am astonished, thrilled and of course hugely excited. It is going to be a remarkable experience to begin to consider the work for the imposing architecture of the British pavilion.

"I cannot imagine a more invigorating and wonderful challenge. The international diversity for which the Biennale is so renowned within the particular context of Venice is a unique and stimulating creative opportunity beyond my wildest dreams."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Phyllida Barlow's 'untitled: upturnedhouse' sculpture on display at Tate Modern

The BBC's arts editor Will Gompertz called the 71-year old sculptor "an enlightened choice".

Barlow's colossal sculptural projects are made of everyday household or DIY materials including plywood, cardboard, plaster, cement, fabric and paint.

Her career has spanned over four decades and her work has been presented in solo exhibitions around the world.

Her latest exhibition is the recently opened Artist Rooms at Tate Modern.

British Council director Emma Dexter, who is chair of the Venice Biennale Selection Committee, said she was "truly delighted" at the choice.

"Barlow's imposing sculptures and installations have enthralled and intrigued audiences around the globe in recent years.

"Her work combines physical impressiveness with intricate and highly considered details with regard to materials and techniques, allowing questions of making and experimentation to be at the core of her work.

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Media captionPhyllida Barlow will represent the UK at the Venice Biennale.

"Barlow transforms and dynamically alters every exhibition space she encounters. I am hugely excited at the prospect of seeing what she will bring to the neo-classicism of the British Pavilion."

Analysis - BBC arts editor Willy Gompertz

Rickety and ramshackle, often colossal, Phyllida Barlow's sculptures are made out of what looks like frankly bric-a-brac - plywood, cardboard, plaster and cement.

I'd maybe call her the Steptoe and Son of arts - a scavenger who makes sculptures that look like a village bonfire the day before fireworks night.

She uses the destroyed and the discarded, the fragile and the overlooked, to make works that are often displayed in the marbled halls of the art establishment.

I think she is an enlightened choice whose rag-and-bone sculptures will come to glorious life in the neoclassical British pavilion in Venice.

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