Studio Sunday: Phyllidia Barlow

A photo of Phyllidia Barlow working in her studio


British sculptor Phyllidia Barlow has been working as an art teacher since the 1960’s. Only since 2000 has Barlow become publicly recognized for her works on a larger scale. Known for her imposing large-scale sculptures made from scrap materials including cardboard, foam, plastic, and plywood, the artist generally works in an abstract style, creating large, monolithic shapes as well as drawings that reflect a similar aesthetic sense.


Barlow’s studio pictured above offers a few hints about the work that occurs therein. The pallet resting against the wall is covered in maybe plaster, or clay, or papier-maché remnants, and has probably been used more than once as the basis for a large sculpture in progress. Just above it, on top of a stack of wood boards, or possibly more pallets, is a series of bulbous objects that look to be made out of some mixture of cardboard and colored paper or wood.


It’s possible that these are maquettes, or drafts of a larger piece. Barlow frequently works on a fairly large scale for her sculptural works, so it’s interesting to see this narrow-looking hallway as a part of her studio space. Through the doorway, Barlow can be seen at work on something, along with a couple of other individuals - possibly studio assistants. There appears to be a large garage door on the far wall – perhaps an exit point for Barlow’s sculptures on their way to the gallery?


Barlow, aged 72 at the time of this writing, is notable as a so-called “outsider artist” who, like others such as Louise Bourgeois, has achieved widespread recognition for her works late in her career. 

[image source]

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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