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b. 1948, United Kingdom

Alison Wilding Biography

Sculptor Alison Wilding is known for her use of diverse materials—including metal, stone, and plastic—to explore space and the medium of sculpture.

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An alumna of London's Royal College of Art, Alison Wilding rose to prominence in the 1980s for her expansive and innovative experimentation with the sculptural object. The floor sculpture Dark Horse 1 (1983), for example, takes the form of a black cloth cut in a shape that mimics a flayed horse's skin; the flatness of its 'skin' contrasts with the solid white stone that acts as its head.

Another earlier Alison Wilding sculpture is Immersion (1988). Consisting of two brass parts, Immersion plays with different ways of embodying immersion: the cylindrical form is being 'immersed' in the second, wider form, while the glimmering inner brass surface of each element suggests a different immersion when opposed to its patinated metal exterior.

Opposites are frequent elements of Alison Wilding's work. For Assembly (1991), inspired by the wooden scaffolding she saw in the Hagia Sophia, the artist stacked golden-brown plastic stripes into a stepped structure. Its transparency, which creates a blurred impression from a distance, contrasts with its hard, opaque steel shell. Surface and materiality also play in Re-re-re-tread (2016), whose tapered wooden block appears rough next to the smooth and reflective tin disks between which it is sandwiched.

Many of Alison Wilding's sculptures suggest violence or conceal danger. Made from semi-transparent green acrylic, the nearly two-metre-tall Drowned (1993) offers a view of its surroundings through a subdued and coloured filter that evokes deep water submersion. In two sculptures from 2015, metal rings nest black fibreglass eggs. The imagery becomes ominous when paired with the titles: Cuckoo 1 and Cuckoo 2, in reference to the birds that push their competitors out of the nest.

Mesmer, Again—Alison Wilding's solo exhibition at Karsten Schubert London in 2020—revolves around the artist's 2016 sculpture Mesmer: a roughly W-shaped wooden structure held together by magnets. Also on view were new works, many from 2020, that continue the artist's engagement with diverse media and form. In Black Stripe, for example, a thin stripe of black paper is tightly wedged between two blocks of alabaster, while the delicate orb Gobstopper 5 consists of tangles made from silver wire.

Alison Wilding held one of her first major solo exhibitions at London's Serpentine Gallery in 1985 and was nominated for the Turner Prize twice—in 1988 and 1992. In recognition of her contribution to contemporary British art, Wilding was made a Royal Academician in 1999 and an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2019.

Alison Wilding Solo Exhibitions include:

Mesmer, Again, Karsten Schubert London (2020); Right Here and Out There, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-On-Sea, United Kingdom (2018); Alison Wilding, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (2018); Acanthus, Asymmetrically, Offer Waterman, London (2017); Alison Wilding, Duveen Galleries, Tate Britain, London (2013).

Alison Wilding Group Exhibitions include:

We Are Here, Heong Gallery, Cambridge (2020); Dialectical Materialism: Aspects of British Sculpture since the 1960s, Karsten Schubert London (2019); What isn't here can't hurt you: Alison Wilding and Frances Richardson, Royal Society of Sculptors, London (2019); Making It: Sculpture in Britain 1977–1986, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield (2015); Shelagh Wakely: A View from a Window, Camden Art Centre, London (2014).

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021

Exhibition view: Alison Wilding, Mesmer, Again, Karsten Schubert London, London (7 December 2020–31 March 2021). Courtesy Karsten Schubert. 

Alison Wilding Featured Artworks

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Revisiting Mesmer 3 by Alison Wilding contemporary artwork
Alison WildingRevisiting Mesmer 3, 2020Rubber paint, paper collage and ink on paper
28 x 38.5 cm
Karsten Schubert London Contact Gallery
Revisiting Mesmer 2 by Alison Wilding contemporary artwork
Alison WildingRevisiting Mesmer 2, 2020Rubber paint, paper collage and ink on paper
28 x 38.5 cm
Karsten Schubert London Contact Gallery
Revisiting Mesmer 1 by Alison Wilding contemporary artwork
Alison WildingRevisiting Mesmer 1, 2020Rubber paint, paper collage and ink on paper
28 x 38.5 cm
Karsten Schubert London Contact Gallery
Mmm by Alison Wilding contemporary artwork
Alison WildingMmm, 2020Alabaster, silver leaf, iron
24 x 26 x 8 cm
Karsten Schubert London Contact Gallery
Hmm (Better) by Alison Wilding contemporary artwork
Alison WildingHmm (Better), 2020Alabaster, bronze and ceramic
19 x 27 x 7 cm
Karsten Schubert London Contact Gallery
Gobstopper 5 by Alison Wilding contemporary artwork
Alison WildingGobstopper 5, 2020Silver wire
9 x 9 x 9 cm
Karsten Schubert London Contact Gallery
Drone 3 by Alison Wilding contemporary artwork
Alison WildingDrone 3, 2012Alabaster, cast fibreglass plum and paint
46 x 60 x 9 cm
Karsten Schubert London Contact Gallery
Black Stripe by Alison Wilding contemporary artwork
Alison WildingBlack Stripe, 2020Alabaster, black paper
10.5 x 7.6 x 2.75 cm
Karsten Schubert London Contact Gallery

Alison Wilding Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Alison Wilding, Mesmer, Again at Karsten Schubert London
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7 December 2020–31 March 2021 Alison Wilding Mesmer, Again Karsten Schubert LondonLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Dialectical Materialism: Aspects of British Sculpture since the 1960s at 1 Park Village East, London
Closed
28 September–6 October 2019 Group Exhibition Dialectical Materialism: Aspects of British Sculpture since the 1960s 1 Park Village East, LondonLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Alison Wilding, What Isn't Here Can't Hurt You at Karsten Schubert London
Closed
7 March–3 May 2019 Alison Wilding What Isn't Here Can't Hurt You Karsten Schubert LondonLondon

Alison Wilding Represented By

Alison Wilding In Related Press

Wilding & Richardson wow in South Kensington Related Press Wilding & Richardson wow in South Kensington 1 April 2019, The Art Newspaper

The show is a dialogue between Wilding and Leeds-born Frances Richardson who is showing Because the two parts don’t quite touch (2019)—a looped structure surrounded by a pair of boulders—among other works.

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Alison Wilding review – pure sculpture from an artist whose time has come Related Press Alison Wilding review – pure sculpture from an artist whose time has come 22 June 2018, The Guardian

Wilding is an alchemist whose art is full of romance and mystery and sudden transformations. She is also, her mini-retrospective at the De La Warr Pavilion makes plain, an artist of nature. Her abstract forms may not at first glance appear to have any connection with the natural world. A black fibreglass balloon nestling inside a ring of...

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Fascinating puzzles that pose mysterious questions - Alison Wilding, Whitworth, Manchester, review Related Press Fascinating puzzles that pose mysterious questions - Alison Wilding, Whitworth, Manchester, review 16 February 2018, The Telegraph

At the Whitworth, a kind of mysterious gateway formed from interlocking recycled floorboards looms impressively over the centre of the room while a flotilla of silk and paper roses are adrift on a hemisphere of trashed concrete. Your first impression is of art that delights in very physical conjunctions of unlikely materials, but is at the same...

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