Art inspired by a Norfolk chicken shed goes on show at Tate Britain

A Rachel Whiteread exhibition is at Tate Britain until January 21.
Pictured is the art work Chicken

A Rachel Whiteread exhibition is at Tate Britain until January 21. Pictured is the art work Chicken Shed (2017), which is inspired by a chicken shed in Norfolk. Photo: Rachel Whiteread/Tate - Credit: Rachel Whiteread/Tate

It may not be everyone's idea of art, but a Norfolk chicken shed is the inspiration behind a new work of art on show in London.

Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread - famous for casting the interior of a house in her first public commission in London's East End in 1993 - unveiled her latest work as part of her new exhibition at Tate Britain.

The new sculpture - a cast of the chicken shed from Norfolk - went on display outside the gallery as Ms Whiteread criticised a glut of public sculpture around Britain which she said did not interact with local people and which she called 'plop art.'

She also said that she felt 'slightly exasperated' by questions about whether the likes of a shed can be called art.

'I made House in 1993 so I've been coming across this for a long time. I think if you keep plugging away and make good enough work, people will hopefully see there's some poetry in a shed,' said the artist, who also has a work called Houghton Hut in the grounds of Houghton Hall in north Norfolk.


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She added: 'Sheds are like miniature houses... sheds are furniture for people to dream away their lives in. So it's become a part of my language.'

About her series of sheds, cabins and shacks, she said: 'They have to be in the right place. I'm not going to make them anywhere.'

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She added: 'I'm not a great fan of what I call 'plop art', where you plop a piece of work down where it doesn't bear any relationship to anything else.

'Art has got extremely popular, and for many reasons that's great. But I think a lot of public sculpture is ill thought out and put in places that it shouldn't necessarily be. It becomes something then that's invisible. People don't even notice it. Art is there for a reason and should be respected and looked at and not just a side show.'

Ms Whiteread's own work for public commissions includes the Holocaust memorial in Vienna, her Fourth Plinth sculpture in Trafalgar Square - a cast of the actual plinth - and 14,000 white polythene boxes for Tate Modern's Turbine Hall.

Her exhibition at Tate Britain includes highlights from her work over the last 30 years, including casts - mostly of the surface of the interior - of hot water bottles, chairs, doors, a roof and a staircase. The exhibition runs until January 21.

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