Sara Barker work acquired for The Whitworth, The University of Manchester

The Contemporary Art Society is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of Sea heaves in a glass, 2015, by Sara Barker (b.1980), presented to The Whitworth, The University of Manchester.

Sara Barker was born in Manchester and lives and works in Glasgow.  In 2015 she exhibited Sea heaves in a glass with Mary Mary at Frieze Art Fair, London and produced site-specific commissions for CASS Sculpture Foundation, Goodwood, West Sussex and Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh. In 2016 she will have solo shows at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, in March and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, in September.

Barker’s work not only considers the boundary between sculpture and painting but exists as the boundary itself. True to this stylistic approach, Sea heaves in a glass, 2015, is the first in a series of weaving metal drawings or constructions that winds around painted aluminium trays. The addition of perspex screens to the work creates an intended barrier between painting and viewer, both concealing and creating new dimensions of space by making it more difficult to view the work from a frontal position. We are forced to return to the work as a sculpture, to consider both interior and exterior space, finding our best views of the painted surfaces from the side.

Influence for the work is taken from a poem by Mark Strand, Reading in Place: ‘how the stars in the sky’s black glass sink down and the sea heaves them ashore like foam’. There is the sense that if any artwork can be a window to something – other works, experience, history – this work might be somehow permeable, forming a border to a subterranean imagination.

The work of Sara Barker has been of interest to the Whitworth for some time. The gallery’s outstanding collection of historic works on paper has significantly steered its acquisitions policy and curators have sought to develop a collection of contemporary drawing and sculpture that exists at the boundaries of both practices. Barker’s lyrical, gestural work does just this. Sea heaves in a glass, 2015, creates dialogues with other works in the Whitworth collections such as the reliefs by Victor Pasmore, assembled drawings by Hayley Tompkins and their collection of Turner landscapes. The work is due to go on display in March 2016 as part of the Whitworth’s New Arrivals exhibition of contemporary drawing (12 March – 20 November 2016). 


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