Lisa Milroy: Social Fabric

12 October 2015 - 22 January 2016


Private View 5pm Monday 12 October 2015


Curated by Lewis Biggs


Social Fabric is an invitation to consider how the everyday activities of ‘choosing’ and ‘making’ contribute to our sense of identity and the construction of the self. It presents paintings by Lisa Milroy selected from the past twenty years.


A Day in the Studio, 2000, acrylic on canvas, is pivotal to the exhibition’s theme. This painting depicts a time chart of the artist’s everyday life in the studio: getting up in the morning and arriving at the studio to prepare for work. Time passes, the artist paints, until she decides to finish for the day. She locks up her studio and leaves, perhaps until the next morning when she will resume and reiterate the same cherished routine. Throughout the day, the artist is repeatedly shown changing her clothes – nightgown, shirt and slacks, outdoor coat, studio clothes – to accommodate each activity. The painting depicts the threshold between internal and external worlds (site of imaginative engagement), and the transformation of concepts and materials through making.


While Social Fabric presents paintings of items of clothing and shoes, motifs that have remained constant in Milroy’s practice since she began her still life depictions of ordinary objects in the early 1980s, the body is also always implied and sometimes present. Recent interactive paintings, such as Off the Rails, 2011-14 directly involve the viewer in choice, testing notions of subjectivity, self-identification and taste, and keying aesthetic pleasure.


You can view photos of the exhibition in our online gallery

Lisa Milroy


Lisa Milroy was born in Vancouver, Canada and lives and works in London.


Still life is at the heart of Milroy’s practice: in the 1980s her paintings featured ordinary objects depicted against an off-white background. Subsequently her imagery expanded to include depictions of objects within settings, as well as landscape, architecture and people. As her approaches to still life diversified, so did her manner of painting, giving rise to a range of stylistic innovations. In recent years Milroy’s focus has been on installation-based paintings that often feature a performance component. Throughout her practice, Milroy has been fascinated by the relation between stillness and movement, and the nature of making and looking at painting.


Milroy was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 2005, and is Head of Graduate Painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL since 2009. Milroy won First Prize in the John Moores Painting Prize in 1988. She is currently Artist Trustee at Tate, and her work is held in many public and private collections.

A Day in the Studio, 2000, acrylic on canvas, 173 x 216cm
Split Personality, 2013, oil on unstretched canvas 183 x 280cm, 2 painted dresses, 2 wooden poles with clay bases
Coming Apart, 2012, oil on canvas, 141 x 138cm
MirRor, 2011, oil and acrylic on canvas, 164.5 x 143cm
Black Shoes, 2014, oil on canvas, 164 x 197cm