"It is my misfortune - and probably my delight - to use things as
my passions tell me. What a miserable fate for a painter who
adores blondes to have to stop himself putting them in a picture
because they don't go with the basket of fruit ! "
I studied Fine Art at Central St Martins in the early 1980’s. My visual and creative education began much earlier however, my father Kit Barker and mother Ilse, were a painter and writer respectively, their circle of creative friends meant that the world I grew up in was one focused both on the visual experience and the stimulation of the imagination.
I now live and work in rural Shropshire where time can get muddled and odd things occur.
Playfulness, the surprise of details and irreverence are important in my work. Juxtaposition is a powerful tool and reflections are a terrific way of creating them.
In my recent works, the viewer enters a world of half-dreams and imagined histories… This is a world populated by anthropomorphised Toby Jugs. These roguish ‘Tobys’ - extravagant spendthrifts, enjoy luxurious living and prize such fetish objects as horse brasses, and risqué postcards. They are captivated and titillated by mirrors and reflective surfaces as well as the sparkle of gold and glass. If given the opportunity, the roguish Toby will empty his purse in the pursuit of pleasure, usually favouring a reckless gamble or the attention of a concubine.
This world of the Tobys was one of tradition, secrecy and glamour that has nearly faded from memory. The closest we can now come to experiencing that era, is by spending time in some of our older public houses, where a little genteel time travel to the bawdy times of such rambunctious characters as Mad Jack Mytton and Hogarth's Viscount Squanderfield is still possible.
My Tobys have, in the reflection of the glass, both material and illusory, become a talismanic emblem of the unconscious, the louche, and of past, more rakish times.
Here is an extract from the BBC film about the 2018 RA Summer show
Some reviews of my work
"I shall hang this work at the top of my stairs and know that it will
make me laugh every morning for the rest of my life"
Mr D Fraser
"Whilst it is amazing to see Hockney and Parry at the RA, I enjoyed your picture the most! "
"I'm delighted that the University of San Diego have purchased a 'French Fancy' print for their permanent collection."
Derrick R Cartwright Associate Professor, Dept of Art, Architecture & Art History.
"Just a note to say how much I admired your RA submission, which seemed to me to be original, well-made and exhilarating in its good humour. What more could one want?"
Sir P Simon, Lord Justice, QC