"I think a lot of work these days has this huge backstory where you need to read the text and then look at the work and then put the two together. And I don't think you need to do that with what I do. I think what you see is absolutely what you get. And also, maybe what you don't see." —Alison Wilding
Betty Cuningham Gallery is pleased to present Alison Wilding: Alabaster and Other Stories. The show is comprised of a special series of drawings along with 20 sculptures, some of which are generously on loan from The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation. It is Wilding’s second solo exhibition with the Gallery.
When Wilding states “what you see is absolutely what you get” she is saying the message of her work is in its materials: the frailty of a single feather or silver leaf, the translucence and resistance of alabaster, the softness or liquidity of rubber, the strength of iron. By combining these seemingly opposing materials, the individual materials are transformed, and viewers are drawn in. While one may be inclined to find figurative or narrative qualities in Wilding’s work, the materiality of the sculptures breaks down these findings, thus creating a very intentional tension between the physical piece and the viewer’s experience. The attraction to the work, in the end, is both visual and emotional.
Alison Wilding was born in 1948 and currently lives and works in London. Having studied at Nottingham College of Art, Nottingham; Ravensbourne College of Art and Design, Bromley; and the Royal College of Art, London, Wilding came into prominence in the 1980s as one of a group of sculptors including Richard Deacon and Antony Gormley. Her first major solo exhibition was held at the Serpentine Gallery, London, in 1985 and in 1987 she had her first major exhibition in New York with Project 10: Alison Wilding at the Museum of Modern Art. Tate Liverpool hosted a retrospective, Alison Wilding: Immersion - 10 Years of Work, in 1991. Since then, she has shown extensively throughout the UK and abroad and has been acquired into major public collections in the UK. Public commissions include Migrant 2004 for Snape Maltings, Shimmy 2013 at 10 New Burlington Street, and Herm 2018 for Rathbone Place. Still Water, a memorial to UK citizens affected by terrorism overseas was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in May 2018. Notable awards include a Henry Moore Fellowship at the British School at Rome (1988); Joanna Drew Travel Bursary (2007); The Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award (2008) and Bryan Roberstson Award (2012). Wilding was nominated for the Turner Prize in both 1988 and 1992 and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1999. A monograph by Jo Applin and Briony Fer was published in 2018 to coincide with Right Here and Out There,, an exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill. Wilding was made Eranda Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy Schools in 2018 and was made OBE in 2019. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue and an Online Viewing Room.