Bill Woodrow, The Ledge, commissioned by the Creative Foundation for Folkestone Triennial 2017. Image by Thierry Bal.

Bill Woodrow
The Ledge

Bill Woodrow’s major artwork, The Ledge, is still in production with the independent fabricators. It will be on site as soon as possible. Neither fabrication nor installation are in the hands of the artist, and the unfortunate delay does not in any way reflect on him.

The groundworks and base for the sculpture are complete, and give a sense of the scale and presence of this ambitious work.

This crystalline modernist architectural composition, echoing the white cliffs beyond, supports figures of an Inuit and a seal, and sits on a black puddle shape. Sited by the shore, the strong horizontals suggest the rising water level resulting from the disappearing polar ice caps, an iceberg melting into a pool of oil. The human figure and its ecological counterpart the seal represent an ancient way of life, standing on thin ice. Climate change, and its effect on people who are on the front line, or at the edge of change, has been a preoccupation of the artist for many years.

Bill Woodrow’s practice made use of ‘secondary’ materials (human artefacts) from the start as raw materials. In this way he was a composer of narratives through using the existing vocabulary of the industrialised world. When he began to cast his sculptures in bronze in the 1990s, the trajectory of his work remained unchanged: the bronzes would very often be composed of industrially produced objects arranged to create a legible narrative. A deep interest in the history of humanity as well as the history of the natural world unsurprisingly led him to express his concern for the impact of human activity on the environment and ecology (and for the astonishing resilience of ‘nature’).

He held his first solo exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery in London in 1972; in 1986 he was a finalist in The Turner Prize and in 1991 he represented the UK at the XXI Bienal de San Paulo (Brazil). In 1996 his solo show of bronze sculptures, Fool’s Gold, was held at Tate Modern (London, UK); and Bee Keeper took place at the South London Gallery in 2001. A major retrospective of his work was held at the Royal Academy 2013 / 2014. Bill Woodrow lives and works in London and Hampshire.



  1. Posted by Morgan Bechard on February 24, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Hi there,

    I just have to express my opinion on “The Ledge”. I am absolutely in love with it, I walk by it often and it reminds me of my Northern Canadian roots. I moved to Folkestone 8 months ago, and Im from Northern Ontario and identify deeply but distantly to our Innu and Inuit neighbours. When I first saw it, my friends had referred to it as the Eskimo, which in Canada is known as a very derogatory word for the northern native peoples of Canada (and other northern places like Alaska, Greenland and Russia). I am relieved and absolutely thrilled that the statue was referred to correctly. Im not one to be offended by everything, but I feel like there isn’t a lot of knowledge in the world about our northern natives, and their way of life. I think its absolutely brilliant that Mr. Woodrow decided to shed light on that part of the worlds peoples.

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