Sitting on History

100 x 150 x 200 cm
Edition of 10

Sitting on History was proposed in response to a commission first discussed in 1990 and to Woodrow’s Tate Gallery exhibition in 1996, which gave him the opportunity to realise a sculpture which could function as a seat. Woodrow had made three maquettes based on a book form: one with coins as the seat backs, another featuring two crows on the spine of the book fighting over a gold coin and this version, entitled Sitting on History. Woodrow's idea was to have a sculpture that was only completed conceptually and formally when a person sat on it. Sitting on History, with its ball and chain, refers to the book as a receptacle of information. History is filtered through millions of pages of writing, making the book the major vehicle for research and study. Woodrow proposes that although one absorbs knowledge, one appears to have great difficulty in changing one’s behaviour as a result. The real books from which the original maquettes were made came from a box of books given to Bill Woodrow by a London bookseller, discarded, as they were no longer saleable. To Woodrow’s wry amusement, in this haul were three volumes on the history of the Labour Party, which he chose to use for the maquettes. Woodrow finds books one of the most powerful democratic tools in the world and still the most advanced form of communication


About The Artist

Bill Woodrow’s early work was made from materials found in dumps, used car lots and scrap yards, partially embedded in plaster and appearing as if they had been excavated. He went on to use large consumer goods, such as refrigerators and cars, cutting the sheet metal and allowing the original structure to remain identifiable, with the cut out attached to the original form. His later compositional works sought to arrange unrelated objects together, altering them in the process and creating new suggestions of meaning. Woodrow achieves this by disassembling familiar, everyday objects in order to consequently reassemble them into new compositional contexts often to surrealistic and uncanny effect.

Bill Woodrow

Born: 1948

Other Artworks by Bill Woodrow at CASS


Regardless of History

Bill Woodrow's sculpture Regardless of History was originally installed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2000…

Related content