Thursday 01 December 2016

Press release

The British Council is delighted to announce that Phyllida Barlow has been selected to represent Britain at the 57th Venice International Art Biennale. She will present a major solo show in the British Pavilion, which will run from 13 May to 26 November 2017. The Artistic Director of the 57th International Art Biennale will be Christine Macel.

Best known for her colossal sculptural projects, for over four decades Phyllida Barlow has employed a distinctive vocabulary of inexpensive materials such as plywood, cardboard, plaster, cement, fabric and paint to create striking sculptures and bold and expansive installations that confront the relationship between objects and the space that surrounds them. Drawing on memories of familiar objects from her surroundings, Barlow’s practice is grounded in an anti-monumental tradition characterised by her physical experience of handling materials in an expedient and direct way.

Phyllida Barlow said: 

“It is an extraordinary privilege and honour to be invited to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale 2017. I am astonished, thrilled and, of course, hugely excited. It is going to be a remarkable experience to begin to consider the work for the imposing architecture of the British pavilion. I cannot imagine a more invigorating and wonderful challenge. The international diversity for which the Biennale is so renowned within the particular context of Venice is a unique and stimulating creative opportunity beyond my wildest dreams.”

Emma Dexter, Director Visual Arts, British Council and Chair of the Venice Biennale Selection Committee, said: 

“I am truly delighted that Phyllida Barlow has been selected to represent Britain at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Barlow’s imposing sculptures and installations have enthralled and intrigued audiences around the globe in recent years. Her work combines physical impressiveness with intricate and highly considered details with regard to materials and techniques, allowing questions of making and experimentation to be at the core of her work.  Barlow transforms and dynamically alters every exhibition space she encounters. I am hugely excited at the prospect of seeing what she will bring to the neo-classicism of the British Pavilion.”

Barlow's recent solo exhibitions include: demo, Kunsthalle Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland (2016); tryst, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas TX (2015); set, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland (2015); dock the Duveen Commission at Tate Britain, London (2014); HOARD, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach FL (2013); scree, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines IA (2013); siege, New Museum, New York NY (2012); BRINK, Ludwig Forum, Aachen, Germany (2012); Phyllida Barlow: Bad Copies, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, England (2012); Cast, Kunstverein Nürnberg, Nuremberg, Germany (2011); STREET, BAWAG Contemporary, Vienna, Austria (2010); and in 2010, she was in the critically acclaimed two-person show at the Serpentine Gallery, London, England with Nairy Baghramian. 

Phyllida Barlow is represented worldwide by Hauser & Wirth. 

Notes to Editor

For press information, interview opportunities and images please contact:
Chloe Kinsman or Florence Ritter, Pelham Communications or
+44 20 8969 3959

For information about the British Council please contact:
Mary Doherty

Exhibition details

Credit line:
Phyllida Barlow’s British Council commission is at La Biennale di Venezia from 13 May to 26 November 2017.

The British Pavilion is managed by British Council Visual Arts:
Commissioner: Emma Dexter
Deputy Commissioner: Gemma Hollington
Exhibition Curators: Delphine Allier and Harriet Cooper

For latest news on the commission:
@Brit_visualarts on Twitter / Instagram 

Address: British Pavilion, Giardini di Castello 30122
Exhibition dates: 13 May - 26 November 2017
Opening times: 10am-6pm Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays.
Vaporetto: Giardini
Catalogue: A catalogue will accompany the exhibition

Accreditation information:
To access the official Pavilions of the 57th Venice Biennale ahead of the public opening you will need to register for press accreditation. Details on this process will be released on the Biennale website

The British Council at the Venice Biennale

The British Council has commissioned artists to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale to celebrate the best of emerging and established British art since 1937. Artists representing Britain have included Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Ben Nicholson, Anthony Caro, Bridget Riley, Richard Long, Frank Auerbach, Howard Hodgkin, Barry Flanagan, Anish Kapoor, Richard Hamilton, Rachel Whiteread, Leon Kossoff, Gary Hume, Mark Wallinger, Gilbert & George, Tracey Emin, Steve McQueen, Mike Nelson Jeremy Deller and most recently Sarah Lucas in 2015. 

The British Council appoints a committee of leading arts professionals from across the UK to select the British representation in the British Pavilion for the Venice Biennale every two years. The 2017 Venice Biennale Selection Committee is made up of the following members:  

  • Maria Balshaw, Director, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
  • Alfredo Cramerotti, Director, MOSTYN, Llandudno, Wales
  • Jennifer Higgie, Editor, Frieze Magazine
  • Skinder Hundal, Chief Executive, New Art Exchange, Nottingham
  • Sarah McCrory, Director, Glasgow International, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Helen Legg, Director, Spike Island, Bristol
  • Matt Packer, Director, Centre for Contemporary Art, Derry, Northern Ireland
  • Alastair Sooke, Art Critic and Columnist, The Daily Telegraph and BBC

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources we make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications.

Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The majority of our income is raised delivering a range of projects and contracts in English teaching and examinations, education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. Eighteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.

See also