Mark Wallinger

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Mark Wallinger
Born1959 (age 61–62)
EducationChelsea School of Art, Goldsmiths, University of London
Known forConceptual art, Installation art
Notable work
State Britain
AwardsTurner Prize
Patron(s)Charles Saatchi, Delfina Entrecanales

Mark Wallinger (born 1959) is a British artist, best known for his sculpture for the empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, Ecce Homo (1999), and State Britain (2007), a recreation at Tate Britain of Brian Haw's protest display outside parliament. He won the Turner Prize in 2007 for his work State Britain.[1] He is a studio holder at The Bomb Factory Art Foundation in Archway, North London.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Mark Wallinger was born in Chigwell, Essex. His formative schooling, from the age of 11, was undertaken at West Hatch High School, Chigwell, Essex. He first studied art at the Chelsea School of Art and later at Goldsmiths College where he was also a tutor from 1986.


Wallinger exhibited throughout the 1980s and held one of his very first solo exhibitions from 6 August to 4 September 1983 at The Minories, Colchester.[3] Later he showed work in the Young British Artists II show at Charles Saatchi's gallery in 1993 and at the Royal Academy's Sensation exhibition in 1997. In 2000, a retrospective of his work, Credo, was exhibited at Tate Liverpool.[citation needed]

Early work[edit]

Wallinger's early work is noted for its social commentary, often focusing on class, royalty and nationalism. These works are often paintings, although by the 1990s he was beginning to use a wider range of techniques, which have continued to feature in his work since.

In 1991, Wallinger exhibited a series of full-length portrait paintings of the homeless called "Capital" at the ICA in London that were bought by Charles Saatchi and later exhibited at his gallery along with Wallinger's life size paintings of racehorses.

Up until 1995, sport as a nexus for English national obsessions was a frequent topic of his work. In 1994 Wallinger appropriated an entire international football match at Wembley Stadium by being photographed with a large Union Jack banner with his name emblazoned on it. As a state flag the Union Flag has superiority to the Cross of St. George that most England football team fans display.

His 1995 Turner Prize nomination was largely thanks to his work of the previous year, A Real Work Of Art. This was actually a racehorse, which the racing fan Wallinger had bought and named "A Real Work Of Art" with a view to entering it in races and therefore causing this "art" to be piped into bookmakers up and down the country. It would thus be a further development of Marcel Duchamp's readymades. As things turned out, however, the horse was injured, and only ran one race.

Later work[edit]

Wallinger's later work appears to have largely turned away from his earlier preoccupations, instead apparently focusing on religion and death and the influence of William Blake. "Angel" is a video played in reverse showing the artist walking backwards at the bottom of the down escalator at Angel Underground Station while reciting the opening lines of the Gospel of John in the King James Bible. At the conclusion of the video the music of Zadok the Priest that forms part of the British Coronation ceremony can be heard as Wallinger 'ascends' up the stairs. No Man's Land, a show at the Whitechapel Gallery included several works on these subjects. Threshold to the Kingdom (2000), for example, is a slow motion video of people coming through automatic double doors at international arrivals at an airport. The video is accompanied by a recording of the famous Miserere by Gregorio Allegri. Wallinger has said that the title might be taken as a double meaning: arrival at the United Kingdom, but also at the kingdom of heaven, with a security guard playing the part of St. Peter.[citation needed]

As well as traditional religion, Wallinger's work has sometimes referenced myths. Ghost (2001) is a negative print of George Stubbs' famous horse painting Whistlejacket that has had a horn added to its head, thus turning it into a unicorn. Originally planned as a full-scale painting, time constraints meant the piece was manipulated entirely in Photoshop from high quality side scans. Time and Relative Dimensions in Space (2001) takes a more modern myth as its subject - it is a life-sized mirrored model of the TARDIS from Doctor Who which at certain angles seems to blend into its environment.[citation needed]

The largest work in the No Man's Land show was Prometheus. This piece is in two parts - on the outside, in a dark corridor, is a video of Wallinger (or rather his alter-ego, "Blind Faith") sitting in an electric chair and singing Ariel's song from William Shakespeare's The Tempest. From the corridor, automatic double doors give access to a brightly lit room which has an electric chair bolted to one of the walls, giving a top-down "God's-eye view" of it. On two facing walls are large photos of fists with the words "LOVE" and "HATE" written on them, a reference to the preacher played by Robert Mitchum in the film, The Night of the Hunter, who had similar tattoos on his knuckles. A circular steel loop gives out a continuous buzzing sound.[citation needed]

Ecce Homo was the first work to occupy the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square. This work is a life-sized statue of a Christ figure, naked apart from a loin cloth, and with his hands bound behind his back. He wears a crown of barbed wire. The sculpture was placed at the very front edge of the massive plinth, emphasising its vulnerability and relative smallness. It was quite popular with the public and was later shown at the Venice Biennale in 2001, where Wallinger was Britain's representative.[citation needed]

State Britain was installed inside the Duveen Hall of Tate Britain in January 2007. It is a meticulous recreation of a 40 metre long display which had originally been situated around peace campaigner Brian Haw's protest outside the Houses of Parliament against policies towards Iraq.[4] The original display consisted of donations from the public, including paintings, banners and toys. This had been confiscated by the police under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. He also put a black line on the floor of the Tate and through the middle of his exhibit to mark part of a 1 kilometre exclusion zone from Parliament Square.[5] In 2011 the artwork was exhibited for the first time in the Netherlands at the De Pont museum.[6]

He was one of the five artists shortlisted for the Ebbsfleet Landmark Project[7] in January 2008, and in February 2009 it was announced that his design had won the competition. Wallinger's design is of a giant white horse modelled on another of his own racehorses, 'Riviera Red',[disputed ] and has been described by his supporters as "an absolutely mesmerising conflation of old England and new, of the semi-mythical, Tolkienesque past and the six-lanes, all-crawling present".[8]

He curated the exhibition "The Russian Linesman: Frontiers, Borders and Thresholds" at the Hayward Gallery in London, which lasted from February to May 2009.[9]

Labyrinth 218, Cockfosters.

In April 2011, it was announced that Mark Wallinger would be one of three artists (along with Chris Ofili and Conrad Shawcross) to collaborate with the Royal Ballet and the National Gallery to create a piece based on works by the Renaissance painter Titian. Titian Metamorphosis, which documented the entire project from conception to finished performances, was published by London-based publisher Art / Books in two editions in January 2013.[10]

In February 2013, it was announced that Wallinger had created Labyrintha set of 270 enamel plaques of unicursal labyrinth designs, one for every London tube station, to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground; each will be numbered according to its position in the route taken by the contestants in the 2009 Guinness World Record Tube Challenge.[11] In October 2014, Art / Books published Labyrinth: A Journey Through London's Underground by Mark Wallinger, a comprehensive photographic book of all 270 labyrinth designs in situ in the Underground stations.[12]

In 2019 Wallinger displayed his sculpture entitled The World Turned Upside Down at the London School of Economics. The artwork attracted controversy for showing the island of Taiwan as a sovereign entity, rather than as part of the People’s Republic of China.[13] After dueling protests[14][15] by students from both the PRC and ROC and reactions by third party observers (which included the President of Taiwan,[16] Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs[17] and the co-chairs of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group in the House of Commons[18]) the university decided later that year that it would retain the original design which chromatically displayed the PRC and ROC as different entities but with the addition of an asterisk beside the name of Taiwan and a corresponding placard that clarified the institution's position regarding the controversy.[19][20][21][22]

In October 2019, Wallinger featured in a group show at Tension Fine Art alongside artists Julian Lowe and Stuart Elliot. The show "You Can't Tell By Looking" was curated by Kate Love.[23][24]


In 2007, Wallinger won the Turner Prize for his work, State Britain — this was his second Turner Prize nomination.[1]

As part of the Transported by Design programme of activities, on 15 October 2015, after two months of public voting, Mark Wallinger's Labyrinth work was elected by Londoners as one of the 10 favourite transport design icons.[25][26]

Personal life[edit]

Wallinger is a supporter of the Labour Party.[27] In October 2010, he and 100 other leading artists signed an open letter to the Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt protesting against cutbacks in the arts - he created a new work, "Reckless", for the protest.[28]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Higgins, Charlotte (3 December 2007). "Bear man walks away with Turner Prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
  2. ^ "Mark Wallinger | Bomb Factory Art Foundation". Archived from the original on 1 June 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Friends of The Minories". The Friends of The Minories Art Gallery. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  4. ^ Street, Ben (8 February 2007). "The State We're In". Artnet Magazine.
  5. ^ "Mark Wallinger: State Britain - Tate".
  6. ^ "Museum De Pont: exhibition :: Mark Wallinger". 23 May 2006. Archived from the original on 23 June 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 February 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Gayford, Martin (1 July 2008). "Think of England: Mark Wallinger talks about Ebbsfleet". Apollo. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  9. ^ Baron, Scarlett (9 March 2009). "Mark Wallinger Curates". Oxonian Review. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
  10. ^ "Art / Books - Publishers of fine illustrated books - Titian Metamorphosis". 21 January 2013.
  11. ^ Brown, Mark (7 February 2013). "Tube celebrates 150th birthday with labyrinth art project". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  12. ^ "Art / Books - Publishers of fine illustrated books - Labyrinth". 20 August 2014.
  13. ^ Martin Bailey (5 April 2019), Wallinger's upside-down globe outside LSE angers Chinese students for portraying Taiwan as an independent state The Art Newspaper.
  14. ^ Yan, Sophia; Lyons, Izzy (5 April 2019). "LSE considers altering sculpture to show Taiwan as part of China after student pressure". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  15. ^ Parker, Charlie (6 April 2019). "London School of Economics in a world of trouble over globe artwork". The Times. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Taiwan will always be a sovereign country: Tsai". Focus Taiwan. Focus Taiwan. 5 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Taiwan Foreign Minister writes open letter protesting LSE's decision to change depiction of Taiwan on sculpture". Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  18. ^ "U.K. parliamentarians step into debate on Taiwan's name on statue". Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  19. ^ Lin Chia-nan (11 July 2019). "Ministry lauds LSE for globe color decision". Taipei Times. Taipei Times.
  20. ^ "Taiwan still distinct from China but given asterisk on LSE art work". Focus Taiwan. Focus Taiwan. 10 July 2019.
  21. ^ Everington, Keoni (10 July 2019). "LSE ignores Chinese cries, adds asterisk next to Taiwan on globe". Taiwan News. Taiwan News.
  22. ^ Lin, Shirley (10 July 2019). "LSE adds asterisk next to Taiwan on globe art installation". RTI. RTI.
  23. ^ "EXHIBITIONS - You Can't Tell by Looking".
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ "Labour's Fundraiser Figures - GuidoFawkes". Guido Fawkes.
  28. ^ Walker, Peter (1 October 2010). "Turner prize winners lead protest against arts cutbacks". The Guardian.

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