Artist biography

English sculptor. In 1980 he first devised his characteristic method of making sculpture, forming a new object or objects from the skin of a found domestic appliance as in Twin-tub with Guitar (1981; London, Tate). Woodrow worked in such a way as to leave evident the original identities of the constituent items as well as the mode of transformation. His work is distinguished by its reliance on discarded consumer durables redolent of contemporary urban experience and by a witty and skilful manipulation of this raw material into a kind of three-dimensional drawing. These juxtapositions of images and objects from ordinary life do not constitute didactic statements, but have an elliptical, poetic content. In later work Woodrow continued greatly to expand his raw material to encompass car doors and bonnets, industrial units and textiles, while also elaborating the symbolic and narrative implications of his constructions, for example Life on Earth (1984; Ottawa, N.G.), in which a group of vinyl chairs and a consumer durable are cunningly metamorphosed into an improvised theatre for a ‘home movie', where the fish on film seem to watch the human audience with as much curiosity as that of the spectator scrutinising the work of art. In the late 1980s, while retaining the symbolic and narrative elements characteristic of his earlier work, he began to work first in welded steel and then in cast bronze (e.g. Listening to History, 1995; artist's col., see 1996 exh. cat., p. 35).

Bibliography
Bill Woodrow: Sculpture 1980–86 (exh. cat. by L. Cooke, Edinburgh, Fruitmarket Gal., 1986)
M. J. Jacob: ‘Bill Woodrow: Objects Reincarnated', A Quiet Revolution: British Sculpture since 1965, ed. T. A. Neff (London, 1987), pp. 156–75
Bill Woodrow: Fools' Gold (exh. cat. by J. Roberts, London, Tate; Darmstadt, Inst. Mathildenhöhe; 1996–7)

LYNNE COOKE

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