Artist Phyllida Barlow on Sustainability in Art | Louisiana Channel



“It has to be faced.” In this short and thoughtful video, great British artist Phyllida Barlow reflects upon the subject of sustainability within the field of art.

“The more the issues of sustainability and the environment become really significant for all of us, what happens in the studio is now reaching a critical point. In terms of how things are built, how things are waisted or retained, and I have to begin to examine that.”

Barlow, known for her elaborate sculptures, often built with cheap and discarded materials, strives to combine the multilayered processes within the art world with culture’s overall responsibility to contribute to social change towards a more sustainable future.

“You know this may be cheap wood, but it still comes from a tree, and this needs respect. How I go about that is becoming an important issue. I haven’t over the last five or ten years really solved that by any stretch of the imagination, but I am aware of it.”

“It’s a very vicious circle. So we are all caught in this trap of what aspects of our daily lives do we change, and where, as an artist, can I use my imagination and my creative history, if you like, to effect change in the way I work? I am thinking about it the whole time, actually.”

Born in 1944 in Newcastle upon Tyne, Phyllida Barlow has spent a life in art – both as a teacher and an artist in her own right. Today, she belongs among the most interesting, acknowledged and honoured figures in the British and international art scene, representing Great Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2017. For over 50 years, Barlow has taken inspiration from her surroundings to create imposing installations that can be menacing and playful at once. She creates anti-monumental sculptures from inexpensive, low-grade materials such as cardboard, fabric, plywood, polystyrene, scrim and cement. These constructions are often painted in industrial or vibrant colours, the seams of their building left visible at times, revealing their means of making. In October 2022, Barlow was awarded the prestigious Kurt-Schwitters-Prize for her essential contribution to contemporary art.

Phyllida Barlow was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at multiple locations in London in April 2022.

Camera: Kyle Stevenson
Edited by: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

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