Bill Woodrow was born near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. He studied at Winchester School of Art, 1967-1968, St Martin's School of Art, London, 1968-1971, and Chelsea School of Art, London, and 1971-1972. He had his first solo exhibition in 1972 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh organised a major survey show of his sculpture in 1986, and Fools Gold, an exhibition of his bronze sculpture of the 1990s was mounted by the Tate Gallery, London in 1996, subsequently touring to Institut Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt, Germany. He has twice represented Britain at the Bienal de São Paulo, first in 1983 in the group exhibition, ‘Transformations, New Sculpture from Britain’ at the XVII Bienal, and later with a solo showing at the XXI Bienal in 1991. His work has been included in many important group exhibitions including: Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany in 1987, ‘Metropolis’, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin in 1991, and ‘Un Siècle de Sculpture Anglaise’ at the Galerie National du Jeu de Paume, Paris in 1996. Woodrow has undertaken a number of major commissions, including his largest bronze sculpture to date, Regardless of History, for the Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London in 2000-2001. He was a finalist for the Turner Prize at the Tate Gallery in 1986, and winner of the Anne Gerber Award at the Seattle Museum of Art, USA in 1988. Woodrow lives and works in London.
Woodrow's early works incorporated everyday household objects, such as vacuum cleaners and hairdryers, which he embedded in plaster or concrete so that they appeared partially excavated like latter day archaeological remains. Throughout the 1980s, he continued to use domestic objects as his source material, re-cycling and constructing sculpture which created new life out of the defunct and discarded. Various objects were cut from the original source but remained held to it by a metal umbilicus, as with Long Distance Information. In 1989 he took up bronze casting and created a large body of figurative work based on themes related to issues concerning global survival. Following the solo exhibition of these works at the Tate Gallery in 1996, Woodrow sought a new approach to making sculpture and began working on a large and ongoing body of work with the theme of The Beekeeper. The seemingly balanced relationship between humans and bees has provided Woodrow with a new approach to making sculpture which has continued to question mankind's relationship with the world: "Periodically changing the way I make sculpture is important to me, no matter how successful a particular way of working may be at the time. Finding new ways enables me to question my own position as well as today's continually changing values."
Lynne Cook, Bill Woodrow Sculpture 1980-86, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 1986
John Roberts, Bill Woodrow Fool’s Gold, Tate Gallery, London, 1996