Philippa Lawrence

Philippa Lawrence studied Fine Art Printmaking at Norwich School of Art, gaining an MA from the Royal College of Art in 1993. She lives in Bristol and is a Principal Lecturer on Textiles, and Artist Designer Maker Degree Programmes at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Her practice is site-responsive, concerned with issues related to mans’ relationship to land, nature and place. Amongst others, these issues include: boundaries, land use, land ownership and a growing concern with imposed limitations and an encroachment on our wild spaces.

Her work explores how man harnesses, changes and exploits his environment and in its physical manifestation she raises our awareness of a growing separateness from ’natural’ or wild’ spaces. For Philippa space is aligned to our unconscious and the untamed and unknown parts of our minds and psyche. Her work provides an interface: a common boundary between systems and environments, concepts and people, creating a place where ideas and matter converge, and communication and interaction can occur.

Installations have been made for public and private sites in the UK, Australia, Czech Republic, Canada, Japan and America housed within gallery and non gallery spaces; a remote island, Municipal Park, Forest, Heritage Site, estates, garden, tenanted farm land and arboretum. Her interest in site was initially pragmatic driven by a desire to present work outside of the hierarchy and restrictions of a gallery setting. She says she wanted to make work that was from and out of site, through becoming physically connected to a place.

Lucy Lippard (Lure of the Local, 1997, p274) expands on place-specific art as ‘natural’ spaces, which may be adapted. But the activity can ‘add a social dimension that refers to the human history and memory, land use and political agenda relevant to the specific place’.

How land use supports people and shapes society through a division of labour, interests her greatly. Recently, she has studied language related to activity within the textile trade. She is creating a woven text, which will form part of an international textile art exhibition ‘Cloth and Memory 2’, at Salts Mill, Saltaire in the Autumn of 2013.

In ‘Cloth and Memory 2’, and in landscape plantings such as ‘Darning the Land: Sewn’, commissioned by Waddesdon Manor, the artist is focused upon the domestic lives of those who work with textiles, and the individual within the ‘fabric of society’.

Recent commissions include
• Darning the Land: Sewn for Waddesdon Manor (2013)
• Darning the Land: Seam, Swadlincote, Derbyshire (2011)
• Bound V-57 at Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois (2011)
• Barcode FB:814 at Mortimer Forest, Ludlow (2011)

Her work has been included in publications and magazines such as Sculpture, Embroidery, Site-ations, Breaking Ground, Imaging Wales and Anima.

Bound: 2003-2010 across sites in Wales and extending to America.
An Arts Council Wales supported project in which she sought to wrap an ancient dead tree in cloth in each of the 13 old counties of Wales. These works were less about binding and more about making a connection to and comment about the landscape.

Barcode FB:814: 2011, Mortimer Forest, Near Ludlow
Commissioned by Meadow Arts on land managed by the Forestry Commission. At the time the Government announced an intention to sell swathes of our woodland, she was asked to make a comment. The work is taken from a barcode on Forestry Commission sourced dowelling rendered in cloth around the trunks of young oak trees. The work questioned our romantic attachment to trees and drew attention to them as a commodity. The barcodes in the forest relate to individual trees but also extend to include the forest at large.

Bonsai, Bound: 2006-
This work effectively demonstrates some of the extremes that man goes to in his quest to subvert and control the living elements of ‘his’ world. The pre-deceased bonsais are wrapped in skeins of embroidery silk – bound in life they are also bound in their death.

Darning the Land: Sewn, Waddeson Manor, Aylesbury 2013 and Darning the Land: Seam: Swadlincote, Derbyshire 2011
‘Darning the Land’ in both its presentations references the ‘hidden’ history of a place and carries a metaphor of the land as a textile surface. The plantings create links within open spaces and invite an audience to experience, to follow and to walk though their delineated spaces. Both projects make patterns with grasses and wild flowers. The plants follow a running stitch and an enlarged darning pattern to evoke the idea of the mending of the earth. The work is temporary, subject to change, site-responsive and both poetic and practical. The work is born from an interest in the power of textiles to communicate and to ‘heal’. These pieces also develop the use of textiles in the environment.

Fallen Star: Iceland, 2006
A commissioned site-responsive work focusing upon Iceland’s relationship to water and power. The challenge for the artist was how to make a meaningful response to a specific but previously unknown environment and in this case to issues of energy, place and power. The experience of Videy, an island a few miles off the mainland is one of openness and stillness with an over riding sense of the timeless power of nature. Iceland is a country shaped, surrounded and supported by water. It is a land of polarities – in temperature, and in its seasons. It is isolated, pure, complex and is unforgiving as an environment, hard to draw life from or farm. ‘Fallen Star’ utilises white gold and light bulbs to reference harnessed power from naturally heated water, which is converted to electricity. The bulbs in ‘Fallen Star’ hang in a former storeroom (the ‘donkey hut’) on the island over collected granite. They hang like rain frozen in time. The gold slowly tarnishes in the atmosphere referring to both ‘immutability’ and the impossibility of things remaining the same, the constant state of flux and cyclical nature of things.

Glow: 2001-06, Artspace, Australia and Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea
An installation of 1000 suspended hand gilded light bulbs, that precedes ‘Fallen Star’. This work grew from a desire to replace a single spent bulb within the studio complex at Chapter Arts Centre. The concept was to replace the bulb with a gilded bulb – drawing upon the ability of gold to reflect if not emit light. It also raised issues of value and worth.

En masse, the work cuts a plane within an architectural space. The bulbs are rendered useless, but acquire value through the application of a fine layer of gold and through becoming ‘art’.
Electricity and the generation of ‘light’ is arguably one of man’s greatest inventions. Gold is highly valuable; it has resonance on spiritual, practical and aesthetic planes. It is the best conductor of energy on the periodic table and is also one of man’s mostly highly valued materials. Gold’s ability to reflect and seemingly amplify the qualities of available light was employed to effect in churches, on icons. Here they hang creating a meditative slightly undulating plane that cuts through an architectural space.

Both ‘Fallen Star’ and ‘Glow’ are works where the artist draws upon Einsteins’ First Law of the Conservation of Energy where he states that energy is neither created nor destroyed but changes from one state to another. The law is directly implied in Fallen Star. The energy, toil and intent in the time and activity of gilding leaves an energetic imprint that is integral to the piece.

All the Kings Horses and All the Kings Men and ‘Untitled’
Hand cut world map and atlas. A visual representation of how if man continues to take and change the world we will reach a point where we can longer replace or ‘mend’ it.


  • 1991-93
    • Royal College of Art MA in Fine Art, Printmaking
  • 1987-90
    • Norwich School of Art 1st Class BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art

Current and past positions

  • 2011    
    • Principle Lecturer, Artist Designer: Maker, Cardiff School of Art & Design, CMU
  • 2004    
    • Principle Lecturer, Textile Art, Cardiff School of Art & Design, CMU
  • 2004    
    • Associate Lecturer, Fine Art, University of Plymouth
  • 2000-04  
    • Freelance Project Manager for Wales Arts International, taking the first representation of Wales to the Venice Biennale of Art and its tour across Wales.
    • Project Management for the Public Art Agency for Wales Cywaith Cymru on its Public Art Commissioning and Residency programmes.

Visiting Lecturer

  • 2010-12    
    • MA & BA Contemporary Art Practice, Plymouth University
  • 2011    
    • BA (Hons) & MA Fine Art, Bath Spa
  • 2008    
    • BA (Hons) Contemporary Applied Arts Practice, Swansea Metropolitan University
    • MA Textiles, Royal College of Art
  • 2004-08    
    • BA (Hons) Spatial Practice, Fine Art, University of Plymouth,

Membership of Professional Bodies

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Director of Sculpture Shed, Spike Island
  • AiR & Textile Art Society

Awards & Commissions

  • 2013    
    • Residency at the Nirox Foundation: South Africa
  • 2012    
    • HEFCW SIP to develop work with Waddesdons Manor
  • 2011    
    • Bound V-57, Nature Unframed, Morton Arboretum
    • Darning the Land: Seam, re-place main commission for Derbyshire
    • Barcode FB814, Mortimer Forest, ACE Rural Commissioning Programme
  • 2009-10    
    • Tell it to the Trees, Croft Castle, Meadow Arts Commission
  • 2008    
    • Welsh Artist of the Year. St Davids Hall, Cardiff
  • 2006    
    • Production Grant for Solo Exhibition, Arts Council of Wales
  • 2003    
    • Commission for Explorations, National Botanic Garden of Wales
    • Creative Wales Award. Arts Council of Wales
  • 2000    
    • Individual Artists’ Bursary, Arts Council of Wales
    • Visitors’ Choice Purchase Prize, University of Glamorgan
  • 1998    
    • Oppenheim John-Downes Memorial Award
  • 1997    
    • Special Crafts Award, for a Gilding Master Class, Arts Council of Wales
  • 1993    
    • IBM Art in Technology Award
  • 1992    
    • Henry Moore Foundation Scholarship

International Exhibitions

  • 2011-12    
    • Bite-Size: Miniature Textiles from Japan and the UK Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London; GalleryGallery, Kyoto, Japan; Nagoya University of Arts and Science, Japan
  • 2011    
    • Nature Unframed Morton Arboretum, Chicago. USA
  • 2006    
    • Sense in Place Site-ations, Reykjavik, Iceland
  • 2005    
    • Anima B312, Montreal, Canada
    • Philippa Lawrence & Reiko Aoyagi House of Art, Czech Republic
  • 2001    
    • Glow Artspace, Sydney, Australia
  • 2000    
    • In Our Hands 5th International Soft Sculpture Exhibition, Kyoto
  • 1996-98    
    • Revelation Maidstone Gallery, Leighton House, Barbican & Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2006-7    
    • Philippa Lawrence Oriel Davies, Newtown & Glynn Vivian, Swansea
  • 2001    
    • Glow Glynn Vivian Museum & Art Gallery, Swansea

Group Exhibitions

  • 2012    
    • Sub-Woofer Spike Island, Bristol
  • 2007-12    
    • Spike Open Open Studios Spike Island, Bristol
  • 2010    
    • Celebrating Paper Royal West Academy, Bristol
  • 2009-10    
    • Tell it to the Trees Meadow Arts at Croft Castle, Leominster
  • 2008    
    • Land Wales Millennium Centre
    • Welsh Artist Award St Davids Hall, Cardiff (Winner)
    • Through the Lens Invited Artist, Royal West Academy, Bristol
  • 2004    
    • Mostyn Open Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno
  • 2003    
    • Explorations National Botanic Garden of Wales
    • Insiders Oriel Davies and tour
  • 2002    
    • Like Gold Dust Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham
    • Ffresh 3 Chapter & G39, Cardiff
  • 2000    
    • Purchase Prize (Visitors Choice), University of Glamorgan
  • 1998    
    • Pistol/Dryll Inaugural show, artist led space g39, Cardiff
  • 1996-8    
    • Art Textiles1 Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery & tour


  • 2012   
    • Lawrence, P (2012) Bound; the use of cloth as interface; exploring boundaries and concepts in relation to site and place presented at Outside’: Activating Cloth to Enhance the Way We Live, University of Huddersfield, UK 23 January. Due for publication in ‘Textiles; cloth and culture’ by Berg

Publications & Reviews

  • 2011    
    • Bite-Size UCA, ISBN: 978-0-9564160-9-4
  • 2008    
    • Embroidery Magazine Article by Dr Jessica Hemmings, June
  • 2007    
    • Breaking Ground Cywaith Cymru & Seren, ISBN: 1854113410
    • Site-ations. Sense in Place UWIC, ISBN: 978-1-905617-53-1
  • 2006    
    • Re-imaging Wales WAI & Seren, ISBN: 1854114069
    • Philippa Lawrence Oriel Davies, ISBN: 187079799X
    • Reiko Aoyagi & Philippa Lawrence House of Art, Cseke Budejovice. Catalogue
  • 2005    
    • Anima G39, Cardiff, Wales & B312, Montreal, Canada
  • 2004    
    • 14th Mostyn Open Oriel Mostyn. Exhibition catalogue
    • Insiders Oriel Davies Touring Exhibition Catalogue
  • 2003    
    • Made in Wales Object Magazine, Australia. Issue 43
    • Explorations Cywaith Cymru. Catalogue
    • Imaging Wales WAI. Publication. ISBN: 9781854113498
  • 2002    
    • Like Gold Dust Angel Row Gallery. Catalogue. ISBN:0905634578
  • 2001    
    • Artist’s Story Artists’ Newsletter. November
  • 1997    
    • Art Textiles Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery. Exhibition catalogue
  • 1996    
    • Angels and Mechanics Exhibition catalogue. ISBN: 0952825600
    • Revelation Maidstone Gallery Exhibition catalogue

Philippa Lawrence