Phyllida Baarlow untitled: upturnedhouse, 2  2012
Tate Modern

ARTIST ROOMS: Phyllida Barlow

Boiler House Level 4 West

Phyllida Barlow untitled: upturnedhouse, 2  2012 © Phyllida Barlow

Discover Phyllida Barlow’s fascination with the physical experience of handling materials

This year Phyllida Barlow became the fortieth artist to join the ARTIST ROOMS collection, with the introduction of untitled: upturnedhouse, 2  2012, a gift from the artist.

Phyllida Barlow uses everyday household or DIY materials which she transforms through processes of layering or accumulation to make large-scale sculptural installations.

Cutting, sawing, breaking, coiling, folding or covering, Barlow has been fascinated by the physical experience of handling materials since the late 1960s. Her resulting sculptures and installations often seem to interrupt or invade the space around them.

untitled: upturnedhouse, 2 2012 is made of painted wood panels that are built up to form an irregular structure. Though the title refers to a house, it has become an abstracted form, a familiar object removed from its practical function. The materials themselves can also be deceptive. The two wedge-shaped elements that support the structure appear to be concrete, but are in fact made of wood with a surface coating of cement.

The construction looks as if it may collapse or tip over at any moment, flagrantly disobeying the rules of balance, symmetry, gravity and beauty associated with more classical forms of sculpture and architecture. Often described as ‘anti-monumental’, Barlow’s sculptures confront us with their physical presence and irreverence.

Curated by Ann Coxon.


ARTIST ROOMS is a collection of over 1,600 works of contemporary art. It was founded in 2008 when Anthony d’Offay donated 50 ‘ROOMS’ of art to Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland in one of the largest and most important gifts of art ever made to a museum in Britain. ARTIST ROOMS includes major bodies of work by 40 international artists. The guiding principle is to show the work of each artist in dedicated solo exhibitions. ARTIST ROOMS is owned and managed jointly by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland, and the collection is made available to audiences across the United Kingdom through a programme of exhibitions, developed in collaboration with partner galleries and museums known as ‘Associates’.

The ARTIST ROOMS collection of international modern and contemporary art was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008 with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, and the Scottish and British Governments. ARTIST ROOMS On Tour is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Art Fund and, in Scotland, the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.


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Supporting content


Tate Britain Commission: Phyllida Barlow

Watch an interview with the artist as she installs her mammoth installation Dock at Tate Britain in 2014


BP British Art Lecture: Phyllida Barlow

Listen to a recording of the artist in conversation with curator Daniel Baumann