Cathy Wilkes, whose large-scale installations connect the banalities of daily existence to larger archetypes of birth, marriage, child-rearing, and death will represent Britain at the 58th Venice Biennale.
Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Wilkes trained at Glasgow School of Art and is part of the generation of artists who emerged in the mid-1990s. Since then she was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2008 and won the inaugural Maria Lassnig prize in 2016, an award recognising the achievement of mid-career artists and is now seen as one of her generations most important artists.
Wilkes is primarily known for her large-scale installations of seemingly disparate objects, many of which are distressed, damaged, altered or adapted. These are then rearranged, remade, to explore layers of meaning that meditate on the personal and universal, vulnerable and brutal.
The British Council also announced that, following an open call selection process, Dr Zoe Whitley, Curator International Art, Tate, has been appointed curate the British Pavilion.
Emma Dexter, British Council Director Visual Arts, Commissioner of the British Pavilion and Chair of the British Pavilion Selection Committee, commented:
“The British Council is delighted that Cathy Wilkes has been selected to represent the UK at the Biennale Arte 2019. Cathy Wilkes’s distinctive and highly personal sculptural installations, evoking the rituals of daily life while alluding to existential questions at the core of human existence, will trigger complex new meanings and atmospherics within the grand domestic architecture of the British Pavilion. I am in no doubt that her exhibition will be a unique and powerful contribution to the Biennale Arte 2019. We are also really excited that Dr Zoe Whitley will be working alongside both the British Council and the artist to help bring this fascinating artist’s work to the global audience for La Biennale di Venezia.”