Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Where Are We Now? interview with Sally Barker

Where Are We Now?

Sally Barker

This is an exciting time for me - I moved back to Calderdale 18 months ago with my family, I had been living in London for 22 years, since leaving art college, so half my life has been spent in a one of the largest cities in the world. I am really enjoying living back in the North, where access to the rural landscape plays a vital role in my life and work.

I am the first artist on a 3 year project called The Watershed Landscape Project - artists inspired by the upper landscape of the South Pennines. In many ways this commission was tailor made for me! I get paid to produce a body of work inspired by this landscape which has been part of me since childhood- I love it deeply.

The work is sculptural in nature but photographically presented. I explore the landscape, collecting natural materials and panoramic images. I make small scale sculpture with the materials , which are photographed back into the landscape- sometimes at the same site and sometimes many miles across the moors. These migrations of materials echo journeys and movements on a larger scale, that the earths sculpting and destructive forces have resulted in the land as we see it today. Glacial valleys, incredible rock formations, waterfalls etc. I am also looking at the mark we have left on the land- our interaction via farming, the construction of engineering phenomena like the reservoirs, the windmills, monuments etc. The story is a constantly shifting and complex interplay between us and the landscape, which I am telling through the combination of small sculpture, model painted figures and epic landscape. This body of work is far from a pious homage to nature- as with all my work,whether its looking at architecture and the urban landscape, or this rural one, materials are used to explore identity. I hope my intentions to integrate humor and playfulness come across, to make the work is compelling, intriguing and surprising with ourselves at the heart.

What's New?
New in my life - as above. New house, new environment, new body of work, new friends and contacts, new walks, new children's' schools, new skills, new workplaces, more contact with my family, less contact with old friends, new neighbours, new pet rabbit, new future.

Where Are We Now?
The journey towards gender equality carries on, the end is nowhere near being in-sight. For every woman in a position of power there will be 10, or 100, women struggling for the same rights, pay, status, acknowledgement as male peers. There are probably infinitely more who aren't even aware of this as an issue. It makes me sad to hear so many women say they don't see themselves as feminist, they seem afraid of the word. It has negative, overly politicised connotations for some younger women. Bu t my 12 year old daughter and 8 year old son , know about equality between men and women, (they like to use the word sexist!) , so there is a future because enough people care and wont let it slide. Its ongoing.

What's to be done?
Keep discussing, addressing, voicing opinion when its uncomfortable. Expose inequality - passive and active. Keep afloat the idea of positive discrimination in places of power like Parliament, as long as the women chosen are equal or better. Carry on highlighting positive values that women bring to a situation, so that we look at gender issues in a complex , not polarised way.

Who's Next?
Inspirational artist - close friend Sally Labern. Always stretching hers and other peoples expectations regarding possibilities for art to be used as a tool for growth, community cohesion, intelligent, thoughtful stimulus. She reminds me to look around more, search out artists that might inspire and will counteract my tendency to be artistically introverted.

What are you looking forward to?
Looking forward to my own exhibition! Cartwright Hall in June, showing the work I'm producing for The Watershed Project. Look forward to making lots of new contacts and meeting like minded artists.

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