Anya Gallaccio was born in Paisley, Scotland. She studied at Kingston Polytechnic, London, 1984 - 1985, and Goldsmiths College, University of London, 1985 - 1988. Early in her career she participated in two seminal London group exhibitions, Freeze in 1988 and the East Country Yard Show in 1990. Her first solo exhibition was at Karsten Schubert Ltd, London in 1991, since when she has shown extensively in Europe, the USA and Japan. She has participated in numerous important group exhibitions, including Brilliant! New Art from London at the Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis in 1995, The British Art Show 4, a national touring exhibition in 1995 - 1996, Material Culture: The Object in British Art of the 1980s and 1990s, the Hayward Gallery, London, 1997, and Real/Life: New British Art, which toured to five Japanese museums in 1998 - 1999. She undertook a residency on the Art Pace International Artists’ Programme, San Antonio, Texas in 1997, was awarded a Sargent Fellowship, British School at Rome in 1998, and was artist-in-residence at the Kanazawa Art Academy, Japan in 1999. In 2002 she was invited to undertake a commission for Tate Britain's Duveen Galleries, where she created an installation incorporating the monumental trunks of seven felled oak trees. A major survey of her work was mounted at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham in 2003, and she has subsequently been short-listed for the Turner Prize at Tate Britain, London. She lives and works in London.
Gallaccio’s work is concerned with constant change and the effects of time. Using a wide range of materials such as cut flowers, fruit, chocolate, ice, burning candles and salt, there is an inevitable impermanence about her work. Her approach most commonly involves setting up an installation which then evolves through the process of decay and disintegration. For one of her most dramatic works, Intensities and Surfaces, staged at Wapping Pump Station, London in 1996, she built a thirty-two ton stack of ice which melted over a period of three months. More recently she has begun to use more traditional materials for her sculpture and has cast a whole apple tree in bronze. When exhibited, the tree is festooned with real apples which rot over the period of showing and fill the gallery with the scent of the decayed fruit. Although the short life of much of her work has meant that her installations now live on in memory and through photographic records, over the last decade and a half she has created a major body of work which has given her an important and unique place in British art. Works can be repeated, as has been the case with her pieces using cut flowers and for which she is perhaps best known. Red on Green incorporating 10,000 red roses is such a work. Originally made for her first solo showing in a public gallery, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London in 1992, it was recreated ten years later for the exhibition Blast to Freeze: British Art in the 20th Century mounted by Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in 2002 - 2003, which then toured to Les Abattoirs, Toulouse. More recently, Red on Green was recreated for the British Council exhibition Turning Points: 20th Century British Sculpture in 2004, the first major exhibition of contemporary art for ten years at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Iran.
Turning Points 20th Century British Sculpture, British Council and Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art
Ralph Rugoff, interview with Andrew Nairne, Anya Gallaccio: Chasing Rainbows, Tramway, Glasgow and Locus +, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1999
Mary Horlock, Simon Schama and Heidi Reitmaier, Anya Gallaccio: Beat, Tate Publishing, London 2002
Simon Watney Anya Gallaccio, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2003