Place, Space and Who
Place, Space and Who is a new artwork by British, Birmingham based artist Barbara Walker, created over a four-month residency at Turner Contemporary. It explores identity and belonging, featuring sound and portraits of five women and girls from the African Diaspora living in Margate and Kent.
For over 20 years, Walker has been committed to a practice of figurative drawing and painting, concerned with class, gender, race, power and representation. Working in a wide range of media, from wall drawings to embossed works on paper, her work is about making people visible and challenging the absence and misrepresentation of marginalised and overlooked subjects.
“For Place, Space and Who I was concerned with what it is to be seen as belonging to a minority group,” says Walker. During the residency, she has connected with women and girls from different generations, both longstanding residents and more recent arrivals to Margate and Kent. The sound piece created in collaboration with artist Dan Scott captures the voices of the sitters, exploring their different viewpoints and experiences of living in and moving to this area.
In this work, and throughout her practice, Walker has drawn on traditions of portraiture in Western art history, attuned to the ways identity and power are reflected in clothing, framing and symbolic objects. These portraits, rendered in charcoal and Margate chalk, are about “reclaiming a space,” says Walker, “they reflect upon the strength and character of women and girls who have been key to establishing this place as home, and their respective contributions through social and cultural gestures – which can be large or small.”
Barbara Walker MBE was born and lives in Birmingham. Recent solo exhibitions include Vanishing Point at Jerwood Gallery (2018), Shock and Awe at Midlands Arts Centre (2016). Recent group exhibitions include the Diaspora Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale (2017); A Slice Through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings, Modern Art Oxford (2018) and The Gallery of Small Things, Dakar Biennale, Senegal (2018). She has been awarded the 2020 Bridget Riley Fellowship at The British School at Rome and the inaugural Evelyn Williams Drawing Award in 2017.