Leeds Art Gallery presents a series of new works from artist Sara Barker in her latest solo exhibition All Clouds are Clocks All Clocks are Clouds. The exhibition opens across the lower galleries from 7 February – 31 May 2020.
Sara Barker works with painted sheets of aluminum and moulded and brazed brass and steel, which together form sculptural paintings in space or wall-based reliefs. From a background in painting, Barker uses sheet metal the way others might use a canvas, experimenting with the limits of the painted surface, rejecting fatness and giving shape to gesture and movement.
Since the outset of her career Barker has made gesturally painted surfaces within hard industrial forms combing paint with architectural materials, producing large scale freestanding sculpture and wall hanging forms that have nuanced dialogues around composition, scale and materiality. More recently, she has made angular, indented aluminum trays or ‘trenches’ as containers for painting and its process and residue: ‘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 connfgurations, depths and shapes can spring.’
In her latest solo exhibition, Barker presents a major body of eight new tray works,
exhibited for the first time. Alongside the new works, the artist has made a selection of
paintings from the Leeds Art Gallery collections that continue to influence her practice.
The conversation between her own work and the paintings from the collection highlights a
common language between painting and sculpture that is visceral, tactile and elemental in the making. The exhibition title All Clouds are Clocks All Clocks are Clouds contrasts the literal rigour and freedom of Barker’s methods with the painterly surface within a rigid metalwork. In science clocks represent a neat and orderly system that can be ‘solved’ reductively, where-as clouds by their very nature are disorderly, irregular and unpredictable.
In their imagery, the new work references the artist’s creative space and process, the island where she grew up and her daily experiences. She also draws broadly from the fiction she reads, utilising motifs and fragmented narratives as tools to talk about the passing of time and memory. So sparsely drawn (and veiled beneath glass and dissected by metalwork) are characters and landmarks that they are indistinct, able to slip between biography and fiction, carried by Barker’s gesture and matter of paint, occupying a space indefinable as either ancient or contemporary, interior or exterior.
Barker also presents a signifcant new sculpture honouring revolutionary science, a permanent commission for the University of Leeds. It tributes Sir William’s pioneering research in developing X-ray crystallography in the early 20th century and will take-up a prominent position as part of the university’s new Engineering and Physical Sciences development in 2020. Sara Barker said: ‘the sculpture is made up letters, shapes and motifs, revealed as we move around it, which act as prompts and triggers to a familiar scientific vernacular but also break out of their archetypal use to create spiraling imagery in vivid iridescent colour, describing worlds within worlds.’
Sara Barker was born in Manchester in 1980, studied at Glasgow School of Art and is based in Glasgow. Forthcoming and recent solo shows include Cample Line, Dumfrieshire (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).