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Phyllida Barlow, Rachel Whiteread and Alison Wilding – the three witches of British art

This month Hurly-burly, a three-way exhibition featuring Phyllida Barlow, Rachel Whiteread and Alison Wilding, will open at Gagosian Paris. It takes its title from Macbeth – “When the Hurly-burly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won”. It’s a surprisingly gleeful name for an exhibition from three of Britain’s most admired modern sculptors, as well as a tribute to their friend the late gallerist Karsten Schubert, who once called them “the three witches”.  But are they really very witchy? “I feel like I can guess what people are going to say,” says Whiteread, the 1993 Turner Prize winner, now 59, from her home in north London. “I have funny déjà-vu things.” A pause. “I probably would have been burned at the stake, yeah. And I’ve got a good cackling laugh as well!” “It’s possibly there – who knows?” says Wilding, 74, who taught alongside Barlow in the 1980s at Brighton Polytechnic, where they first met a young, ambitious student, Whiteread. “I don’t go around with a huge number of artists except Rachel and Alison,” says Barlow, the oldest of the three at 78, who enjoyed a sudden rocket to art fame 12 years ago. “So I suppose I’m witchy in the sense that I rather keep my distance.”