Alison Wilding was born in Blackburn, Lancashire in 1948 but grew up in St Ives, Huntingdonshire. She studied at Ravensbourne College of Art and Design (1967-70) and the Royal College of Art (1970-73). One of the New British Sculptors prominent in the 1980s she has had numerous solo exhibitions including the Serpentine Gallery (1985), Museum of Modern Art, New York (1987), Tate Liverpool (1991), Henry Moore Foundation (2000). She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1992 for ‘the subtle strength of her sculpture’, received the Henry Moore Fellowship at the British School at Rome in 1998 and was made a Royal Academician in 1999. Collections include Tate Britain, British Council, Arts Council, FRAC Pays de la Loire, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Scottish National Gallery, Leeds City Art Gallery, Henry Moore Institute.
Alison Wilding’s work is not immediately easy to understand and she is not in a rush to explain it. It often consists of two elements of contrasting materials which suggest opposites, as in the copper dishes and black ceramic flowers of the installation Cluster, the ceramic cone and and black walnut hemisphere of Keel, the bronze and glass of Lid (Kohl), and the alabaster (from the Fauld mine in Staffordshire) and silver leaf of the Silverlip series. There is a similar contrast in her works on paper: in the Species Series of etchings the hardground lines are often overlaid with smooth aquatint shapes; and her Hathor and Muzzle drawings include collaged Japanese paper.
The sculptures are all abstract although there may be hints of organic elements. They vary vastly in form, materials and size but each one retains a similar kind of quiet monumentality. Beyond the immediate aesthetic charge there is a feeling of some internal secret, which tempts the viewer to go beyond the materiality of the surface and search to understand the intended metaphor.