Studio Sunday: Phyllidia Barlow
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.