Phyllida Barlow – reviews of 'mad' Tate Britain Commission

Apr 2, 2014

Barlow's colossal, sprawling sculptures inspired by London's chaotic riverfront wow critics

Phyllida Barlow: dock 2014 J Fernandes, Tate Photography

What you need to know 
Tate Britain has unveiled Phyllida Barlow's new sculptural installation for 2014. The annual commission invites artists to make work in response to the Tate's collection.

Barlow is known for her large-scale sculptural installations and experimental three-dimensional collages using everyday materials such as cardboard, timber, polystyrene and plaster. Her latest body of work, Dock 2014, takes inspiration from the gallery's riverfront location. Runs until 19 October.

What the critics like 
"What an exhilarating work this is," says Adrian Searle in The Guardian. Mad, ambitious, gothic and slapstick, Dock presents the world as theatre set, an anti-monumental act of deconstruction, a huge bricolage - wow.

"Phyllida Barlow's colossal reimagining of riverside London bristles with vitality," says Alastair Sooke in the Daily Telegraph. Barlow's vast, sprawling sculptures are exciting and dangerous, and even manage to make cable ties artistically interesting.  

"It looks a bit like a great flood has swept in from the Thames and right through the grand spaces of Tate Britain," but that's the idea, says Rachel Campbell Johnston in The Times. With Dock 2014 Barlow encapsulates her philosophy of embracing chaos and mess and pure chance to make wilfully anti-monumental works.

What they don't like 
Parts of Dock 2014 are reminiscent of "a frayed old armchair with the springs and stuffing showing", says Alastair Sooke in the Daily Telegraph. But even if you dislike their messiness, you can't deny their honesty and energy, and Barlow's willingness to have a go.  


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