Tate Britain Phyllida Barlow

As you walk past the spiral staircase and into the main hall of Tate Britains Duveen gallery, you are faced by stacked and hung materials. That being cardboard, rags, rubber, tape, tarpaulin, paper, polystyrene. Walking in and out of the sculptures made me feel even smaller than I already am. I felt overpowered by these warn out recycled materials, the reverse to the feeling you’d expect. The scale of the work had so much control over you, even if it did juxtapose to a very traditionally classic gallery with its contemporary and modernistic outlook of destruction and pull to gravtiy. “Barlow’s work embraces mess, absurdity, chance, preciousness.’. 

Chance is definitely an action I depend on within a working piece, or in a project. I let the evolution of an idea or piece take place naturally rather than forcing a result. Mind and reality are two very different things. If I depend too much on my mind full of ideas and expectations, I am left disappointed, whereas reality such as the making and experimentation gives a result of different journeys you didn’t know existed before. Places you wouldn’t expect to find yourself in.

Reading over Barlows reviews, her quotes, her inspirations and her work, is a strong drive to want to get lost within a piece of work or within an idea, to see where it leaves you standing, to see what state of mind it leaves you in. To expose yourself to all possibilities and not to expect an end to anything you’ve started. Like all projects for an institute or a company etc. there is always an end date. But the desire, and sometimes, the need to carry on with the project is an underlying nag at all times. Even in a fresh new project ideas relating to the past shine through. I’m sure this is an issue within all artists and creative minds. Always feeling left curious of all the possibilities from one project, where it starts, where you get lost and what you discover.

Reality being chance, and often getting deep within a piece letting it shape itself throughout the results can be surprising and mesmerising. Definitely a factor I found within Barlows work and reviews. “Although she creates on a massive scale, her sculptures are often described as anti-monumental, the monument and its downfall contained within a form.”

“Our era has been defined by falling monuments. The statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down in Iraq gave us “that extraordinary image of him just held in mid-fall”. The collapse of the Twin Towers provided “the kind of crucial phenomenon of all our lives, because it was the absolute collapse of the ultimate phallocentric object, and them coming down as though they were curtseying. Unfortunately, it had a beauty about it, and how do you talk about that? It’s too much, isn’t it? So, in the collapse of a monument, there is a tragedy, a triumph, a beauty, and also an immense grief. The monument has this extraordinary range of emotive qualities.” connecting to my attention to monumental buildings such as Ground 0 and the movie zeitgeist the theories behind the reason for such a disaster/beauty of rebuilding and recovering.”

Inspiring work and artist. Throwing away all sculptures once taken apart (recycled). It brought up the reoccurring question I ask myself of making countless, never ending art pieces creating your voice through that piece then what to do with it once the time has passed. Why are we creating more and more when we already have so much art? Repetition over and over again until we find our individual unique voice. I find all work is the underlying subconscious mind, that we can’t communicate by voice. But the issue of waste triggers frustrations within myself and my work. Same issue you see in Barlows work.

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