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Colour Field Artist Liz West Announces Retrospective

The Civic, Barnsley is delighted to welcome back to her hometown, renowned colour field artist Liz West, in what will be the first major retrospective of her work.

Colour Field will feature a selective retrospective look at West’s installation and sculpture work, including Our Spectral Vision, which was originally commissioned by Natural History Museum, London and Our Colour Wheel; a project that explores the different perceptions of colour by people from varies backgrounds and professions. The exhibition will also feature a newly commissioned site-specific work.

West's process is intensely research-based, and her work is frequently displayed at museums as well as art galleries. She researches the way we see colour and makes art that makes tangible her findings. By creating vivid environments that use variety of mediums and fuse luminous colour and radiant light, West invites the viewer to explore how sensory phenomena can invoke psychological and physical responses that tap into our own deeply entrenched relationships to colour.

Liz West, studied at The Glasgow School of Art, graduating with a BA (Hons) Sculpture and Environmental Art in 2007. Other large-scale works have included Your Colour Perception in Manchester, An Additive Mix at the National Media Museum and Our Colour Reflection at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in Scunthorpe, Broadgate London and Kraftwerk Berlin. Recent months have seen her exhibit at Compton Verney, Chester Cathedral and make new work for the National Festival of Making in Blackburn in collaboration with wallpaper manufacturer Graham & Brown, as well as completing a major permanent outdoor public commission for Paddington Central in London.

Liz said of her exhibition, "I feel honoured to be bringing a selection of my recent work to Barnsley, a place where I spent many informative years and am very fond of. The Civic gave me one of my first exhibition opportunities after I graduated by including my work in the Northern Futures Awards in 2010. I am looking forward to returning with a selection of my most important works."



Installation (dichroic glass, LEDs, acrylic)

700cm (L) 220cm x (H) x 40cm (W)

Originally a commission for the Natural History Museum in London, Our Spectral Vision invites visitors to explore their relationship with colour and our understanding of how we see it. The work creates a vivid environment that mixes luminous colour and radiant light. Rays of light from every colour of the rainbow will beam through seven prisms made from special colour filter glass, creating an atmospheric illusion that will stimulate your visual perception of colour. The work is an interpretation of and inspired by Issac Newton’s experiment with disassembling and reassembling white light into the visible colour spectrum using prisms.



The subjects for Our Colour Wheel offer a range of skills and personalities; some teachers, artists, designers, whilst others have taken non-creative jobs.

West requested the specifics of which wheel belongs to which person remain a mystery so viewers can make their own guesses. "There is a definite collation between the participants and their painted wheels," she explains. In her own judgement, the participants' interpretations of the wheel reflect their personalities, styles, agendas, and aesthetics.



Wallpaper print

Liz West’s collaboration with leading wall coverings company Graham & Brown has inspired a work that eventually became a large-scale optical installation, which was used by Deco Publique and Super Slow Way for Art in Manufacturing, and exhibited as part of The National Festival of Making.

Inspired by Josef Albers 1963 book, Interaction of Colour, Liz West took five pens at a time in her hand and ‘drew’ coloured dots on white paper. Testing build ups of different combinations of colours, West eventually hit on the colour she had in mind – a true grey, only determinable from distance.


Helen Ball, Chief Executive of The Civic says, ‘We are delighted to welcome Liz West back to The Civic, eight years after exhibiting here for the first time, as part of Northern Futures. Since that exhibition, Liz’s career has gone from strength to strength, receiving many accolades and awards and we are really excited that she is returning to her hometown to exhibit some of her latest work. Liz’s work is accessible to people of all ages and will show the versatility of our gallery to its fullest.’

The exhibition will be accompanied by a selection of Joan Miró Prints.

Visitors to the gallery at The Civic can watch Liz West in conversation on Saturday 27th October at 1:30pm. Admission is free and booking is recommended.  

Liz West: Colour Field runs from Sat 13 October until Sat 22 December at The Civic, Barnsley.

Open every Tue – Sat, 10:00am – 5:00pm

Free admission.