Sculpting Lives: Phyllida Barlow

Apr 14, 06:00 AM

In a candid interview in her studio we asked Phyllida Barlow about how she came to sculpture, how she defines what sculpture is, how she disrupts those ideas, her recent successes and how they have impacted her.

“The first time I met him he said ‘Because you’re a woman, I’m not that interested because by the time you’re 30 you’ll be having babies and making jam.’” Phyllida Barlow on meeting her art school tutor Reg Butler
 
Barlow is one of the best- known sculptors working in the UK at the moment and has had major international shows. Unrecognised by the wider world for much of her career, she was an influential teacher to a younger generation of artists during her 40 years at the Slade School of Art before she found acclaim in her 60s. Her work – large scale sculptural installations made from inexpensive low-grade materials – is abstract and seemingly unstable, playing with mass and volume, invading and blocking the space around it. 
In a candid interview in her studio we asked her about how she came to sculpture, how she defines what sculpture is, how she disrupts those ideas, her recent successes and how they have impacted her.
 
“It’s interesting to have those challenges thrown down, but it’s also, you know, you’ve got to muster this tremendous single-mindedness … These things act as the most extraordinary trigger for your future.” Phyllida Barlow. 

With contributions from:

·      Phyllida Barlow, R.A.
·      Edith Devaney, Curator, The Royal Academy

Some sound recordings of Phyllida Barlow in this episode (introduction and in the section from  00.07.20 - 00.13.40) are from her life story interview for Artists' Lives  run by National Life Stories in partnership with the British Library.  Audio (c) British Library Board and Phyllida Barlow.