This exhibition will span Bill Woodrow RA’s entire career and explore the themes of his oeuvre from the early 1970s to the present day. Comprising over 50 works, it will highlight his humour and inventiveness as well as underpinning his influential role in contemporary sculpture. The exhibition will be held in Burlington Gardens, the Royal Academy’s new venue for contemporary art.

Bill Woodrow RA is one of the group of celebrated British sculptors born in the late 1940s and early 1950s, who have helped redefine public perceptions of sculpture, a group which also includes Anish Kapoor RA, Antony Gormley RA, Tony Cragg RA and Richard Deacon RA. His early work is characterised by his use of domestic and urban objects to make sculptures in which the original identity of his materials is still evident. Woodrow cites Richard Long, Bruce McLean and Gilbert and George as early influences.

Arranged chronologically, Bill Woodrow RA will explore his best-known and critically celebrated series, highlighting his preoccupation with disassembling and bringing new life and identity to everyday objects in addition to his commentary on our relationship with the natural world. Focusing on the significant stages and themes within his work, it will reveal the way in which each new series is informed by the preceding one.

The exhibition will begin with a selection of Woodrow’s post-college and late 1970s works. By the late 1970s he had begun a period of intense activity which started with his appropriating household appliances and encasing them, fossil-like, in plaster and concrete. Works from his ensuing Breakdown period and Cut-out series from the early 1980s followed. This saw Woodrow using a variety of discarded household objects, and from them cutting out a form to create a different and more exciting object which remained connected to its host. The mid 1980s saw the beginning of the Installation works. Woodrow’s first use of welded steel and later bronze marked his strong desire to move from the limitations of his previous found materials to work in a medium which he could shape from the beginning of the creative process. The Beekeeper series, all related by subject and employing a variety of materials, will be represented as will the series of ceramic and laminated works of the Navigator, Revelator and Illuminator groups where the coloured geometric bases give a sense of gravitas to the objects they are supporting. A range of recent sculptural works from 2009–12 and a series of new drawings made of pollen will also be displayed.

Highlights will include Untitled, 1979, a fossilised telephone from the Fossil series; TV Blind, 1979 from the Breakdown series (specially recreated by the artist for the exhibition); Spin Dryer with Bicycle Frame including Handlebars, 1981 and Boeing, 1983 from the Cut-out series; Red Monkey, 1985 from the Installation works; Un Till The Land, 1989 from the Bronze works; Beekeeper and Four Hives, 1997 and Hive, 2005 from the Beekeeper series and Ultramarine Navigator, 2005 from the Navigator series.

Born in Oxfordshire in 1948, Bill Woodrow studied at Winchester School of Arts from 1967 to 1968 and at St. Martin’s School of Art, London from 1968 to 1971 before spending one year at Chelsea School of Art, London from 1971 to 1972. His first solo exhibition was at the Whitechapel Gallery, London in 1972. In the early 1980s he represented Britain at Biennales in Sydney (1982), Paris (1982, 1985) and Sâo Paulo (1983). In 1986 he was a finalist in the Turner Prize at the Tate Gallery, London and in 2002 he was elected a Royal Academician. Bill Woodrow lives and works in London and Hampshire.

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