As a prominent figure in the New British Sculpture movement, Bill Woodrow came to international prominence in the early 1980s with his cut out sculptures. Using the detritus of consumer society as his material, Woodrow transforms salvaged domestic appliances and metal hardware into poetic, surrealist sculptures. Manipulating the remains of everyday objects, ranging from defunct washing machines to car doors, Woodrow wittily reveals the unexpected in the ordinary by stripping familiar objects of their function and pairing them with incongruous elements. These ‘bizarre couplings’, as Woodrow calls them, spur the vitality and dynamism of his work. Exploring the material excesses of capitalism, Woodrow’s sculptures parse the relationship between nature and human endeavour. The remodelling of form from one context to another lends a narrative element to Woodrow’s work, which continues into his bronze and welded steel sculptures.
In the early 1990s, Woodrow turned to bronze in a conscious move to explore new materials. The artist’s early sculptures often feature a distinct sense of narrative and this story- telling remains an important element in his bronze works. Toying with the formal connotations associated with bronze, Woodrow’s bronze sculptures frequently look at the notion of history. This is perhaps best demonstrated in Regardless of History, the artist’s monumental commission for the Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square in 2000. Full of symbolism, the sculpture foregrounds the supremacy of nature over civilization, as well as man’s continuing inability to learn from the past.