About Making It: Sculpture in Britain 1977–1986

The late 1970s and 1980s witnessed the emergence of a younger generation of artists working in the UK who began to receive international attention for practices which, although incredibly diverse, share a revived interest in the sculpted object, in materials, and in ideas around making. Making It was the first exhibition to survey this exciting moment in British sculpture.

Making It showed how approaches to object making were reinvigorated by the breakthroughs in conceptual and performance art made by preceding generations and by sculptural and cultural inspirations from beyond these shores. Drawn primarily from the holdings of the Arts Council Collection and augmented with major loans from important UK public and private collections, Making It represented the work of over 40 artists including Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Cornelia Parker and Alison Wilding among many others. 

Jill Constantine, Head of the Arts Council Collection said: “Making It captures the breadth and vitality of the sculpture being produced in this country during this period. Many of these artists went on to achieve international recognition and acclaim and their influence is very much in evidence on younger artists today. We are grateful to the many artists and curators who have contributed to the exhibition and catalogue as we are to our future tour partners

Making It was an Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition, which launched at Longside Gallery, a space shared with Yorkshire Sculpture Park, before touring to Mead Art Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre in Autumn 2015. The Arts Council Collection is managed by Southbank Centre.

The exhibition was curated with Dr Jon Wood, Research Curator at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, and we are grateful to the Henry Moore Institute for their research support and for making available the rich resources of the Henry Moore Institute Library.

Nicholas Pope Fifteen Holes 1981 Elm wood Arts Council Collection Southbank Centre London the artist Photo Jonty Wilde
Nicholas Pope Fifteen Holes 1981 Elm wood Arts Council Collection Southbank Centre London the artist Photo Jonty Wilde 2

This substantial exhibition, embraced a wide range of sculptural practices, highlighting shared concerns, as well as important differences, between and within established groups, and enabling the work of a younger generation to be presented alongside that of both lesser known and older, more established figures.

Artists that were represented in Making It:
Edward Allington, Eric Bainbridge, Phyllida Barlow, Kate Blacker, Boyle Family, Tony Carter, Helen Chadwick, Shelagh Cluett, John Cobb, Stephen Cox, Tony Cragg, Michael Craig-Martin, John Davies, Paul de Monchaux, Richard Deacon, Kenneth Draper, Gareth Fisher, Barry Flanagan, John Gibbons, Antony Gormley, Nigel Hall, Shirazeh Houshiary, Anish Kapoor, George Meyrick, David Nash, Martin Naylor, Paul Neagu, Julian Opie, Margaret Organ, Eduardo Paolozzi, Cornelia Parker, Carl Plackman, Nicholas Pope, Peter Randall-Page, Veronica Ryan, Michael Sandle, Jean-Luc Vilmouth, Shelagh Wakely, Richard Wentworth, Alison Wilding, Glynn Williams, Richard Wilson, Gary Woodley and Bill Woodrow.

Dr Jon Wood co-curator said: “Making It offers an opportunity to look again at this imaginative and materially resourceful period for sculpture. It considers individual achievements within a larger context in which commonalities and differences of approach emerge, that were sometimes less visible at the time. In these years, artists turned to ‘sculpture’, using objects, found materials, colour, images, humour, figuration and narrative, whilst asking searching questions of their own practices and processes.”