Lifting the lid on Sam Taylor-Wood at Hayward

Story by Jack Foley

CELEBRATED but controversial British artist Sam Taylor-Wood (pictured) is holding her first major exhibition in the UK at the Hayward Gallery in London until June 21.

Taylor-Wood works with photography, film and video installation, fusing genres and drawing freely on a variety of sources, from Renaissance painting to Hollywood and even erotica.

The exhibition occupies the entire space of the Hayward gallery on London's South Bank, transforming it into a compelling theatre of the emotions, punctuated throughout with self-portraits, which provide a biographical subtext for the rest of the work.

The artist is well-known for the way in which she examines emotional isolation through highly choreographed photographic scenes - she has been exhibiting her videos and photographs in group exhibitions since 1991 and had her first solo show in London in 1994.

The wife of art dealer Jay Jopling, Sam Taylor-Wood, at 35, is the youngest artist ever to have a retrospective at the Hayward, having been shortlisted for the Turner prize in 1998. Her recent work - which is viewed as her best - is haunted by her experience of cancer and much of it can be viewed at the exhibition.

Among Taylor-Wood's more famous work is her depiction of rich people in the 'Five Revolutionary Seconds' photographs, which really brought her into the limelight. Now, however, she seems content to flirt with Hollywood, turning out work which seem to owe much to the likes of Peter Greenaway rather than Andy Warhol. Hence the likes of Ray Winstone and Robert Downey Jnr are very much to the fore.

The exhibition at the Hayward Gallery is open daily, from 10am-6pm (Tuesday and Wednesday until 8pm) and further details are available from the Box Office on 020 7960 4242.

Highlights of the event include...

Monograph - A monograph of Sam Taylor-Wood's work, published by Steidl Verlag, will be available at a special price of £22.95 from the Hayward Shop during the exhibition.

Talks, seminars and events - the must see event of the exhibition is Sam Taylor-Wood in conversation with Michael Bracewell, critic and novelist, on Wednesday, May 29 at 6.30pm. Combined seminar and exhibition ticket, adults £10 concessions £7 early booking essential 020 7960 4242. A full list of events is available in the Gallery or phone 020 7921 0873 for a copy.

Special projection event on Wednesday, June 12 to Saturday, June 15, from 9.30pm – 11pm. Sam Taylor-Wood’s Mute will be projected outdoors on the Lyttleton flytower turning the National Theatre into a giant screen above the river Thames.

(An example of Taylor-Wood's work, entitled Soliloquy III, 1998, shows the model Suzie Bick in the pose of Velásquez's Rokeby Venus and is pictured, above, right. Photo: Courtesy Jay Jopling/White Cube, London)

Click here for the Hayward Gallery website...