Friday 08 March 2019

Cathy Wilkes will present a solo exhibition in the British Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition in Venice from 11 May 2019 – 24 November 2019.

Wilkes’ exhibition is made entirely of new work, including sculptural installations, object arrangements, paintings and prints, flowing from room to room.

Through the measured process of creating her works, Wilkes experiments with all kinds of media and materials, and collects treasures and ingredients. Production - or what we see in the end - is the accumulation of all of these constituent parts. Her work recalls inchoate visions of interiors and places of loss, and meditates on the nature of love and the coexistence of life and death.

Her work also shows the disappearance and dematerialisation of life and the absence and anonymity of the author. Her works, which are all Untitled, render us all non-initiates; together we have equal capacity.

Dr Zoe Whitley, Curator, Tate Modern and Curator of the British Pavilion at Biennale Arte 2019 said: “We are excited to present a completely new body of work by Cathy Wilkes. Her inventiveness, curiosity and unique thinking have produced something as ambitious as it is captivating. “Wilkes creates space for us to experience the full emotive potential of her materials and invites us to share in her unmistakable aesthetic.”

Cathy Wilkes is the twenty-second artist to be selected for a solo presentation. The British Council has commissioned artists to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale since 1938, celebrating the best of emerging and established British art.

Emma Dexter, British Council Director Visual Arts, Commissioner of the British Pavilion said: “This year’s Pavilion, commissioned by the British Council, gives us an unparalleled opportunity to showcase the creativity of the UK on a global platform.

“The importance of staying connected - with all of our audiences - through original and stimulating artistic programming is more relevant than ever in these particular times. I am very much looking forward to seeing the exhibition in place.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a new publication containing new texts by Cathy Wilkes and Dr Zoe Whitley. It is designed by Yvonne Quirmbach and published by Heni.

Notes to Editor

For information about the British Council, interview opportunities and images please contact: Hayley Willis, British Council +44 (0) 203 285 3781

Biography and selected exhibitions

Cathy Wilkes (b. 1966, Dundonald Belfast, lives and works in Glasgow, UK) graduated with a BA from The Glasgow School of Art in 1988, and completed her MFA at the University of Ulster, Belfast in 1992.

Wilkes has produced an outstanding and unique body of work spanning 25 years, she is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential artists working in the UK today. She will represent Britain at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2019.

In 2016, she was the inaugural recipient of the Maria Lassnig Prize and presented the largest solo exhibition of her work to date at MoMA PS1, New York (2017-2018).

Selected solo exhibitions include: Yale Union, Portland (2018); MoMA PS1, New York (2017-2018); Xavier Hufkens, Brussels (2017); The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2016); Tate Liverpool, touring to LENTOS Kunstmuseum, Linz and Museum Abteiberg, Möenchengladbach (2015 - 2016); Tramway, Glasgow (2014); Xavier Hufkens, Brussels (2013); The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2012); ‘I Give You All My Money’, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago (2012); Gesellschaft Für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen (2011); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2011); Kunstverein München e.V., Munich (2011); Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2011); and ‘Mummy’s Here’, Studio Voltaire, London (2009).

Wilkes was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2008. She represented Scotland in the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005 as part of the exhibition ‘Selective Memory’, and was featured in ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’, the 55th Venice Biennale’s central exhibition in 2013.

Selected group exhibitions include: ‘A Slight Ache’, Chapter, Cardiff (2018); ‘FOOD - Ecologies of the Everyday’, the 13th Fellbach Triennial of Small-Scale Sculpture, Fellbach (2016); ‘Mommy’, Yale Union, Portland (2015); ‘The Great Mother’ (curated by Massimiliano Gioni) Palazzo Reale, Milan (2015); ‘The Human Factor’, The Hayward Gallery, London (2014); ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’, 55th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2013); ‘Studio 58: Women Artists in Glasgow Since WWII’, Mackintosh Museum, The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow (2012); ‘Abstract Resistance’, Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis (2010); ‘Selective Memory’, Scotland + Venice, 51st International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2005); ‘Selective Memory’ was subsequently exhibited at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2005).

About Dr Zoe Whitley

Dr Zoe Whitley is Senior Curator, Hayward Gallery - formerly Curator, International Art at Tate Modern. She recently co-curated the acclaimed exhibition Soul of a Nation. Prior to Tate, she was a Curator at the V&A, having also curated exhibitions in the USA and South Africa.

A full list of the artists who have represented Britain and descriptions of their work is available here:

For further information please visit

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.

The British Council works in partnership with Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland to present the very best artistic and curatorial practice from the UK at La Biennale di Venezia. Across our presentations, we seek to broaden the international reach of our work, strengthen our professional networks, champion diversity and promote best practice in terms of accessibility and policies of inclusion.