Garry Barker

Barker’s work on drawing practices and community story telling has impacted on international emerging artists through his drawing blog and his social media project, ‘Aphorisms for young artists’, where this has changed understanding and produced a resource for other practitioners.

The communities of Chapeltown, Leeds have benefited from Barker’s research, where he has created a platform where their stories can be heard, helping raise awareness of the importance of life events and the environments that shape them. He has also created a new gallery space where local audiences and practitioners can see his work.

The research is practice-based research, situated in local communities and drawing upon storytelling. Barker’s work has developed out of a long-term relationship with the Chapeltown community within which he lives. For many years, he has walked through the community making observational drawings in order to attract passing conversations with people in the street. These conversations then become the starting points for various imaginative reflections by Barker that are woven into complex drawings of the streets and environs of the area. These drawings and associated work are first of all shown in the community and then, once they have a community approval, are exhibited to a wider audience. Some result in technical drawings made to facilitate communications with local authority professionals, such as street planners.

Barker, as part of his research into how his local community develops a ‘voice’, has also written specifically about what he has called ‘the street texts of Chapeltown’, the tone of voice being one that has deeply informed his own practice Sketchbooks are an integral part of Barker’s practice, both as a way of collecting observational information within the community, and as a way of developing ideas in the studio for allegorical drawings, as well as installations and ceramics.

Research references

  1. Barker, G. (2018) Drawing and the street texts of Chapeltown Drawing: Research, Theory, Practice Intellect Volume 3, Number 1, 1 April, pp. 75-85(11) DOI:
  2. Barker, Garry (2017) Drawing as a tool for shaping community experience into collective allegory. In: Collective and Collaborative Drawing in Contemporary Practice. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 192-215.
  3. Barker (2017B) ‘Rabley Drawing Centre SKETCH 2017’ first prize. Touring exhibition of selected sketchbooks of observational drawings done whilst walking through the Chapeltown community and talking to local people about their world views.
  4. Barker, Garry (2018) Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize: 2018. [Show/Exhibition] Barker, Garry (2018) Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize: 2018. [Show/Exhibition]Trinity Buoy (2018) Wharf Drawing Prize 2018 Catalogue, Wunderkammer Press. (21 September 2018).
  5. Barker, Garry (2015) Drawing as collective narrative. In: Drawing Conversations Symposium, December 2015, Coventry University.