Cathy Wilkes: Dadder

Cathy Wilkes and Polly Staple

In July 2001 I invited Cathy Wilkes to make a show at Cubitt. Cathy had recently
completed a solo show at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow and – as she often does –
proposed remodelling the piece to the Cubitt space and Our Misfortune opened in
London on 30 September 2001.

I had always thought that to present Cathy’ s work at this time in London was charged
with a certain resonance. Her sensibility and working methods were distinct from the
plethora of slick and poppy sculpture and paintings that had somehow so naturally
followed the brittle sophistication of London art production in the late 1990s. At this
very particular time – so soon after the events of September 11th – the down beat tone
and autumnal melancholy of Our Misfortune chimed with the prevailing mood of
shock and confusion. A reappraisal of a value system shot – if only temporarily – to

Cathy’ s work does not give easy answers; it eschews categorisation and is resiliently
awkward. Insisting on her own voice and not conforming to external standards Cathy
wants the work to be unstable. It’ s not about grand gestures rather, to a certain extent,
the anxiety of production itself and how we can even begin to relate to each other and
things. In Cathy’ s words, ‘ If you’ re sensitive to something, it can be so much. It can
be everything. It can take you everywhere if you’ re ready, and if you’ re not, you’ re
really not.’

This here is a partial and partisan account, it can’ t be written any other way. It is
impossible to say authoratively ‘ this is the work’ , ‘ this is how you can respond to it’
and sum it up in a meta-narrative. It’ s not neat, confident or complete and as such
resists easy consumption. It’ s more complicated than that.

Text selected by Polly Staple from ‘ Today: Polly Staple on Cathy Wilkes’ , Afterall,
no. 12, 2005, pp.55-62

Cathy Wilkes

Selected Exhibitions

2015/2016 Cathy Wilkes, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany (solo)
2015 Cathy Wilkes, Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, Austria (solo)
2015 Cathy Wilkes, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK (solo)
2014 Sea of Galilee, The Modern Institute /Mousse, Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, Milan, Italy (solo)
2013 Xavier Hufkens, Brussels, Belgium (solo)
2012 The Modern Institute, Glasgow, UK (solo)
2011 Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, USA (solo)
2011 Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO, USA (solo)
2009 Mummy’s Here, Studio Voltaire, London, UK (solo)
2008 Turner Prize 2008, Tate Britain, London
2008 The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow, UK (solo)
2008 Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK (solo)
2002 Migros Museum, Zurich, Switzerland (solo)
2002 Inverleith House, Edinburgh, UK (solo)
2001 Our Misfortune, Cubitt, London, UK (solo)
2001 Our Misfortune, Transmission, Glasgow, UK (solo)
1999 Cathy Wilkes/Martin Creed, The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow, UK (solo)

Selected Collections

British Council Collection


1985 – 1988 Glasgow School of Art