CAMPLE LINE, South West Scotland, are pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Sara Barker. undo the knot will re-open to the public after being closed during lockdown, from 29 April until 23 May 2021.
Sara Barker’s work blurs the lines between sculpture, painting and drawing, as well as between figuration and abstraction and between imagined and physical spaces. Not quite sculptures and not quite paintings, Barker’s work typically explores the boundary between those disciplines. Her recent work has been large-scale and has involved working within angular, indented aluminium trays or ‘trenches’ as containers for painted and sculptural elements: ‘The tray, a surface with edges, has become a foundational and flexible structure for me, to pour material into, and out of which forms in widely differing configurations, depths and shapes can spring.’
Largely created during lock-down, and in her home rather than her studio, Barker has made a body of smaller-scale work for CAMPLE LINE, which comprises a series of wall-based reliefs that incorporate painted and molded brazed brass, steel, glass and aluminium as well as everyday materials such as wood, cardboard and wire. Notably the work marks a reduction in scale for Barker, all of them ‘smaller than my screen, some as small as my books’.
In this respect, they continue a process of deliberate fragmentation, which Barker had already begun with her 2020 exhibition All Clouds are Clocks, All Clocks are Clouds at Leeds Art Gallery. As she has said: ‘Having been in my own home making … because of the epidemic, there’s structure and some comfort in window ledges and door frames to prop work here, and picture frames containing family, and pots, and cheese plants on stands, and shelves, and kettles with mouths open like a stressed bird’s mouth open for water, for relative scale.’
In undo the knot, Barker will include a number of exploratory works – provisional sculptural pieces that are most akin to a preparatory sketch but which she can pull apart and edit through the materials. Neither finished work, nor models, they hover somewhere in-between, underlining the process-driven nature of her practice that gives her the freedom to make and unmake each work.
Of her decision to include these pieces, Barker has said: ‘It didn’t feel right to remove all of the rawness, the first draft, not in this setting, not at this time. I wanted some of that rough execution, of metal meets glass, meets wood and wool and wire’.
These pieces will be shown together with the finished works, revealing a dialogue between these different stages of the work: ‘In my process, the thinking and drawing happens in a first draft of the work, and then the timely making and editing and polishing next’.
The fusion of industrial processes and materials with image, narrative and memory is particularly resonant in the context of Cample. Barker has drawn upon its rural location, referencing topographical maps and black and white photographs of the area that she viewed online at a distance from the gallery while unable to visit. This led to details on a miniature scale being expanded: surfaces of brickwork, divisions between fields, cracks between walls, borderlines, all of which, however subtly, have informed the work:
‘All the while at a distance from Cample Line, unable to visit for strict travel restrictions in place, its domestic proportion in my mind’s eye too, its borders all too clear from endless trawling online – fences carving up fields like feathers, and a painting of mosaic, walls full saturation, all edges, and woodgrain on beams intricately drawn, and the river all around like a moat.’
Barker has also drawn upon the fiction and poetry that she reads, which provide recurring motifs and fragmented glimpses of narrative within the works themselves. The repeated presence of hands and scissors, molded in brass, suggests her own making process: ‘the way I think I paint and sculpt (at odds with one another) … like there have been words knotted together and then snipped and overlain elsewhere’.
Of each piece Barker has said ‘… I want the work to incorporate that impulse or mood, on any given day, for each piece to have its own character; a drawing or suggestion, each its own place, only just existing, with no ground beyond what I can see or make.’
With the re-opening of Sara Barker’s exhibition undo the knot, CAMPLE LINE are delighted to be making available new audio described resources produced by Penny Gonlag, Trinity Coombs and Naomi Watson through CAMPLE LINE’s Young Assistants programme, supported by The Holywood Trust.
Between November and March, CAMPLE LINE’s Young Assistants worked with artist Juliana Capes and with Emma Dove on training in audio description techniques, and they have written and recorded responses to selected works in the exhibition using those techniques. With thanks to Juliana Capes, The Holywood Trust, Anne Marie Wood and Wallace Hall Academy.
CAMPLE LINE will reopen by appointment and with continuing measures in place. It continues to monitor and respond to Scottish and UK Government requirements and guidance. Bookings to visit should be made in advance.
About CAMPLE LINE
Located in South West Scotland, CAMPLE LINE is an independent arts organisation
dedicated to presenting thought-provoking international contemporary art and film for
residents of the region and visitors from further afield.
CAMPLE LINE’S Autumn/Winter programme is funded by: Creative Scotland Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development 2020/21, The Foyle Foundation, The Holywood Trust, Dumfries & Galloway Regional Arts Fund, Film Hub Scotland through the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network, Book Week Scotland, and the generosity of private individuals.
About Sara Barker:
Sara Barker was born in Manchester, UK. She studied at the Glasgow School of Art and lives and works in Glasgow, UK.
Barker works with a combination of materials including steel, aluminium, brass, glass and automotive paint to create both wall and floor-based artworks, which move between two and three dimensions. Her work brings together different surfaces and forms and the structural nature of her sculpture is combined and contrasted with the painted image and the freedom of gesture and mark-making. Within her more recent work, the painted image has become increasingly figurative, making fresh allusions to human presence, to narrative and to the natural environment. Suggested narratives and scenes emerge from within the metal frames, but are always interrupted or obscured in some way beneath glass and metalwork. They offer a new dimension to the notion of threshold long present in Barker’s work, which places the viewer between interior and exterior, between experience and memory, between what we see, or have seen, and what we feel.
Recent solo shows include All Clouds Are Clocks, All Clocks Are Clouds, Leeds Art Gallery (2020), The faces of Older Images, Mary Mary Glasgow (2017), CHANGE-THE-SETTING, The Fruitmarket gallery, Edinburgh and Ikon, Birmingham (2016). Group shows include: She sees the shadows, DRAF x MOSTYN (2018), NOW, Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2018), Condo, New York, Mitchell Algus Gallery, New York (2018), Virginia Woolf, an exhibition inspired by her writings (2018), Women to Watch, Phillips, London 2017), Surface Work, Victoria Miro, London (2018).
She has undertaken a number of outdoor work commissions including a permanent commission for the University of Leeds as part of the university’s new Engineering and Physical Sciences development (2020) and for Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh (2015 and 2013).