Bill Woodrow is a British sculptor who usually doesn't get as much as attention as other sculptors of the same era, such as Tony Cragg or the late Anthony Caro. This retrospective seeks to address this by shining a spotlight on Woodrow's career with a chronological tour of his works.
His early works seem very similar to those of Richard Long, with a focus on stones and journeys and feels quite derivative. But as his career progressed, Woodrow found his own niche of manipulating materials in unique and innovative ways. A branch is lodged between two photographs yet continues within the image while smashed television screens spell out 'TV blind' with shards of glass.
His most recognised works are his cut-outs when everyday objects are transformed into something else, such as a black panther made from clothing, a stag beetle made from strips off a metal kettle and a spin dryer transformed into the frame of a bicycle. These works are often humorous but sometimes the original and 'cut out' objects seem unrelated despite being made from the same material - a sign of Woodrow's imagination and his ability to see things others wouldn't.
Sometimes Woodrow is able to find beauty and symmetry in the everyday. Printer parts lead away from the original printer and taper to a point in a delicate homage to engineering while a giant antenna made from handlebars takes over a wall.
His forays into bronze are not as successful, and his newer works feel similar to his previous works yet aren't as engaging nor as inventive.
Though the innovative use of materials is often seen as a signature of contemporary pop art, Woodrow's sculptures often feel a little rougher around the edges and less obvious. This gives them a more personal feel and they're more effective at engaging the viewer. This is an impressive retrospective with Woodrow's cut-out series providing the highlights.
Bill Woodrow RA is on at Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Gardens, W1J 0BD until 16 February. Tickets are £8 for adults, concessions available.
Also on at Royal Academy is the insightful Australia and the humorous satire of Daumier.