Place, Space and Who

August 19, 2019 § Leave a comment


Photograph by: Stuart Leech


Press Release

Place, Space and Who, Barbara Walker

Residency and Exhibition

Tuesday 30 April 2019 – April 2020


Residency: 30 April – 1 September 2019

Exhibition runs until 19 April 2020


Place, Space and Who is a new commission by British, Birmingham based artist Barbara Walker. Exploring identity and belonging, it features portraits of women from the African Diaspora living in and around Margate.


Walker is developing the artwork through a 4-month residency at Turner Contemporary, filling the double height Sunley Gallery with large-scale portraits and drawings made directly onto the gallery walls. Throughout the residency, Walker has been connecting with women from different generations, both longstanding residents and more recent arrivals to the area. Their stories and experiences have informed the artwork and how it continues to evolve and grow on the walls of the space.


Over 20 years, Walker has been committed to a practice of figurative drawing and painting, concerned with issues of class, gender, race, power and representation. She works in a wide range of media, from large-scale wall drawings to embossed works on paper. Responding to traditions of portraiture in Western art history, Walker’s eye is attuned to the significance of symbolism, dress and framing in the construction of identity and the consolidation of power. Whether revisiting archives or depicting contemporary figures, her work is about making people visible and challenging the absence and misrepresentation of marginalized and overlooked subjects.


Responding to the architecture of the 14-meter-high Sunley Gallery, which looks out to the North Sea, and referencing 16thand 17thcentury paintings in the National Portrait Gallery, Walker’s portraits are about “reclaiming a space.” “Place, Space and Who will reflect upon the strength and character of women who have been key to establishing this place as home,” she says, “and their respective contributions through social and cultural gestures – gestures that could be large or small.”


“I am concerned with what it is to be seen as belonging to a minority group,” says Walker, “This classification of citizens sets us apart, my own experience growing up in the Black community in Birmingham has always informed my work, providing a deep understanding of what it is for a family to arrive in Britain. This moment becomes entrenched in an individual’s identity, and the impact extends well beyond the first arriving generation.”


Barbara Walker will be in residence periodically between 30 April and 30 August 2019.

The completed artwork will be on display until April 2020.



January 29, 2019 § Leave a comment

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Protest and Remembrance brings together four women artists, Miriam de Búrca, Joy Gerrard, Mary Griffiths and Barbara Walker, all of whom use drawing to examine elements of protest and/or remembrance through a range of subjects that include war, political demonstration, burial sites and lost industry, set in both the urban and the rural, past and present.

As a society we often come together, in times of celebration, in times of crisis, to protest or to mourn, or simply to remember. Whether we are reflecting on our past or challenging our future, these artists are telling us the story of something that should not be forgotten.

Alan Cristea Gallery

Private View

6- 7.30pm Wednesday 27th February 2019



28 February – 30 March 2019

Vanishing Point | Text by David Alston

November 11, 2018 § Leave a comment



Vanishing Point is a new exhibition by artist Barbara Walker for the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. (20thOct. – 6thJan. 2019).  For the artist, it marks an embarking on a reviewed set of working methods and in a symbiotic way, a parallel address to subject matter. Like powerful previous bodies of work, as in the Birmingham MAC’s Shock and Awein 2016, Walker signals her intent in the title. Vanishing Point riffs on both the perspectival device in the canon of Western post renaissance art and an occlusion of black presence in that same canon.

Her project was submitted alongside her selected work for the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2017 as a submission for the Evelyn Williams Drawing Award, attached for the first time in 2017 to the Drawing Prize (now the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize). In a biennial cycle the Evelyn Williams Trust supports a recipient and funds, via the £10,000 award, a period of research and studio work, building to a guaranteed exhibition the following year. Barbara Walker was the choice of the Jerwood Drawing Prize selection panel:Dr  David Dibosa, writer, researcher and Reader in Museology at the University of the Arts London, Helen Legg, Director of Spike Island and Michael Simpson, artist, the three of them working with Evelyn Williams Trust member Nicholas Usherwood.

Moving quickly, the artist and the Curators at the Jerwood Gallery were successful in a proposition to the National Gallery to borrow two works (a Tiepolo and a Luca Giordano) from the National’s collection which have exerted, amongst an array of others, Barbara Walker’s gaze and interrogation for her suite of drawings. These loans to her Jerwood Gallery exhibition have been made possible in the first year of the operation of the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, supporting more innovative exhibition making and new possibilities of reach for National collections.

In some ways what Barbara Walker has painstakingly and pointedly achieved in the suite of 11 works based on works in the National Gallery, argues strongly for a showing back in the Trafalgar Square Gallery. Walker interacts with these works because of her fascination with execution and the messaging of Old Master art, rather in the way and on scale, her work looked so fitting in situ drawn on the walls in the stairwell of the Venetian Palazzo Pisani a Santa Marina in the Diaspora exhibition in the 2017 Venice Biennale, with Walker as temporary inheritor and interrogator in a city of wall paintings and frescoed decoration.

Here she works on a size comparable to large sheets of surviving old master drawings, easel size versions that in most cases for the originals, would have existed as drawings on comparable scale, prior to transfer to a surface to take the painting. There are analogies too with the types of drawings that were made by engravers to reproduce a painting.  As artists in those eras thought through compositional study, Walker first works meticulously to expose the workings of the overall composition and the black figuration within it. Working with the image in reverse on the computer, and removing, or leaving almost abstracted, the overall figures, the artist draws out, as it were, the powerful secondary presence of the black figuration in these works. This provides the reliefs to the image which when converted to a plate and printed as a blank, produces the embossed images which she then works on to re-insert the black figuration in graphite drawing and occasional use of coloured pencil. Other parts of the image such as skies maybe reconstructed through drawing.


The resultant works are both exquisite and powerful. Concept and effect prompts so many dialogues about these reclaimed images, through the referencing of seen and unseen aspects of the original images. This then encompasses some of the hierarchies of traditional art history and the historical consideration of the position of drawing vis à vis painting. Walker restores a dialogue around what subtends these compositions and what formally is blanked in the image and what by her is given an asserted presence. This in turn powerfully evokes presences and absences, what is implied and what now in terms of social justice needs to be unequivocal and focal in the image -black presence: history redressed, history re-addressed.

David Alston

September 201867_Vanishing Point 7 (Titian) graphite and coloured pencil on embossed Somerset Satin paper using a Photolymer Gravure plate 2018Detail. Vanishing Point 2 (Van Herp) graphite on embossed paper, 2018IMG_0782web 9web 10Vanishing Point 6 (Breenbergh) graphite on embossed paper, 2018


Photography by Chris Keenan

Vanishing Point

October 7, 2018 § Leave a comment

Vanishing Point 6 (Breenbergh) graphite on embossed paper, 2018

Detail, Vanishing Point 6 (Breenbergh) graphite on embossed paper, 2018

Photo: Chris Keenan


Jerwood Gallery

Vanishing Point opens 20th October and confronts the issues of race and representation in art from the Old Masters through the present day.

Walker is interested in issues of class and power, gender, race, representation and the politics of how we look at others. She makes portraits in a range of media and formats – from small embossed works on paper to paintings on canvas and large-scale charcoal wall drawings – in order to explore social and political issues.

For Barbara Walker: Vanishing Point the artist has selected two paintings from the collection of the National Gallery, London that are displayed alongside her own drawings in order to highlight cultural differences in historic and contemporary societies. The Banquet of Cleopatra by Tiepolo and A Homage to Velázquez (about 1692-1700, by Giordano both feature Black figures. The loans are made possible through the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, an initiative created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund.

Walker’s work depicts subjects who are often cast as minorities, inviting the viewer to look beyond the anonymising act of categorising or classifying citizens. Her pictures make visible the lives of others, and address the allusions associated with the labels conferred upon people by society. By exhibiting the National Gallery loans with her own drawings of Black Subjects, Walker is showing these historic works in a fresh context, drawing attention to the figures that are usually overlooked.

The exhibition is the outcome of the Evelyn Williams Drawing Bursary awarded to Walker in association with Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017 and has been made possible thanks to a grant from the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, an initiative created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund. It is specifically designed to directly fund and empower regional and smaller local authority museums to borrow major works or collections of art from the UK’s national museums and galleries. The fund enables wider access to works from the national collections for audiences across the UK, strengthening the skills of museum professionals and distributing resources.




A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings

June 5, 2018 § Leave a comment

Modern Art Oxford and Drawing Room, London, jointly present A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings, a group exhibition that celebrates the sustained power of drawing in the digital age. The featured artists across the two-venue group exhibition are ruby onyinyechi amanze, Nidhal Chamekh, Milano Chow, Kate Davis, Karl Haendel, David Haines, Ian Kiaer, Ciprian Muresan, David Musgrave, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Kathy Prendergast, Massinissa Selmani, Lucy Skaer and Barbara Walker.

Exhibition dates at Drawing Room: 13 June – 5 August 2018

Join us for our Preview Party on Friday 15 June to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. Find out more.

Untitled (2018) graphite on embossed paper 63 x 46 cm

Photo: Chris  keenan



April 10, 2018 § Leave a comment

I Was There!…( 2018) pen and ink, gold leaf, digital image, vellum, 48 x 38.5 cm

Photo: Chris Keenan

jpegGuest Projects presents Reformation

Kashif Nadim Chaudry    Michael Forbes    Barbara Walker

03 May – 21 May 2018   Opening times 12noon – 6.30pm

Private View 03 May 2018, 6 – 9pm

Reformation presents the work of three artists who unearth hidden histories. Their work proposes alternative narratives that expose and undermine cultural assumptions. In an exhibition that includes sculpture, installation, and drawing, Reformation explores racial, sexual and personal identities within historic economic and cultural currents that still shape our world today.

All three artists share an interest in remodelling and remaking, using techniques that range from pencil drawing directly onto gallery walls, to the use of textiles and found objects that range from skulls to fake designer handbags. The work of Michael Forbes and Barbara Walker was shown at last year’s Venice Biennale as part of the Diaspora Pavilion, an initiative of the International Curators Forum. Khasif Nadim Chaudry has recently completed a major new commission, The Three Graces, for Turner Contemporary, where he spent a year in residence.

Khasif Nadim Chaudry was trained at Goldsmiths. He uses elaborate, textiles based techniques to create monumental installations from fabric and found objects. His work is concerned with power, the sacred and the ceremonial; he situates his sexuality as a gay man within different religious and political contexts. For Reformation he brings together medieval heraldry and Islamic decoration, creating a louche cast of characters in fetishistic finery to question ritual, custom and belief.

Michael Forbes presents a series of sculptural tableau informed by the entwined political and social histories of Africa, the Caribbean, America, and Europe. Bleeding at the edges and erupting from their formal plinths, tribal masks jostle with historical porcelain figurines and disembowelled electronics. Forbes is concerned with migration – of objects, and of the people who have become refugees. His work alludes to the conspicuous consumption of the new economic empires, as well as the arbitrary cultural acquisitiveness that created historic museum collections. Forbes’ work invites a dialogue on both the post-colonial black presence in Europe and new developing Diasporas.

The visceral drawings of Barbara Walker bring to life the forgotten histories of black servicemen and women in the British Armed Forces. Monumental drawings, often large scale and rendered directly onto gallery walls, powerfully document the erasure and cultural negation of black combatants. In other works these figures are embossed on paper, their ghostly pale shadows a vivid contrast with their meticulously illustrated cohorts, resulting in an optical tussle between absence and presence. Graphite and blind embossing techniques draw attention to the fluidity of history, the way it is made, erased and redrawn, and how its figures are repositioned over time. Unearthing these invisible but true stories, of lives given and indelibly altered in the name of Empire, is a particularly poignant endeavour during the last centenary year of the Great War. Walker’s work is an affecting reminder of the social, political, cultural and individual histories that have been expunged from our collective remembrance.

“The history of the art movement in the UK has always been about artist interventions in the form of group shows framed around the currency of artistic chronicles and for me: Reformation will be a historical marker and a must-see event. It is one of many chapters of a story of how Michael Forbes and Barbara Walker project has emerged from a two-year strategic intervention programme that explored the artistic, challenges, changes, disruptions, and interventions that occur across the global art worlds and documents these processes to allow established, future and emerging artists from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences to discover, learn and develop their professional practice.” David A Bailey MBE

Guest Projects is an initiative conceived by artist  Yinka Shonibare MBE which offers the opportunity to artistic practitioners of any artistic discipline to have access to a free project space for one month. Guest Projects provides an alternative universe and playground for artists. It is a laboratory of ideas and a testing ground for new thoughts and actions.

Guest Projects address: Sunbury House, 1 Andrews Road, London E8 4QL

Nearest Tube: Bethnal Green: Nearest Overground: Hoxton. Buses: D6, 26, N26, 48, 55, N55, 106, 388, 236, 254, N253 and 394

Guest Projects is fully wheelchair accessible

Funded by ArtsCouncil England

The Drawing Room| Artist Bursary 2017

January 2, 2018 § 1 Comment

7 August – 13 September 2017

Photographs courtesy, The Drawing Room,
Angela Davis and Ellie Tonna


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