Garry’s practice is allegorical. He has stories to tell and sometimes they arrive readymade and sometimes they need shaping and polishing. Drawing lies at the centre of his practice and sits alongside narrative; a working process that he believes can link all drawing practices back into pre-history.
Recent work includes large narrative drawings that are interwoven with the tales and stories of the times of their making, including responses to walks through local communities, the relationship between art and fiction, the continuing influence of the Western, reflections on domestic habits and loss of memory, both personal and collective and perhaps above all the fact that his dreams inhabit a particular landscape that he used to play in during the 1950s in the town of Dudley which was then in Worcestershire.
Garry is involved in several overlapping ventures including publishing, performance, drawing and exhibition curation, and has also a long history of engagement with the pedagogy of art practice, recently contributing to the Tate Gallery’s scholars’ mornings on the history of the basic design tradition within British Art schools and Q Arts Art Crits: 20 Questions – A Pocket Guide.
As a writer and publisher he has focused on the promotion of texts that engage with narratives and myths surrounding art and artists, recent publications including ‘Readings in a Rumour of the End of Art’ and the e-book, ‘Art and Fiction’.
Actively involved with the development and support of the arts community in the City of Leeds, Garry is a steering group member of the Leeds Creative Timebank, an organisation dedicated to the development of a non-cash based robust infrastructure that can support creative practitioners within the city.
As an educator Garry has had a long a varied teaching career. Initially working as a part-time art lecturer in the 70s he travelled between Leeds and Newport in South Wales working on the Foundation Diploma at Leeds and on the new Fine Art BA programme at Newport College of Art. His keen interest in alternative routes into art education led him to co-author a radical new course in Fine Art and Crafts aimed at mature learners in the Leeds District, subsequently evolving into an Access to Art and Design programme which Garry authored. He was instrumental in developing pedagogic models to develop Leeds Arts University’s higher education in the 80s and has taught, and continues to teach, across the range of HE programmes, including BA (Hons) Fine Art imparting to students a particular expertise in theoretical issues surrounding art and design practice.
Barker, G. (2018) ‘Drawing and the street texts of Chapeltown’, Drawing: Research, Theory and Practice, 3 (1), pp. 75-85.
Barker, G., Belshaw, M., Geldard, J., Miles, R. and Palin, T. (2012) Readings in a Rumour of the End of Art: A Transcript of a Discussion. Leeds: Workshop Press.
Barker, G. (2011) Art and Fiction. Leeds: Workshop Press.
Barker, G. (2019) Thomas Houseago: When art and life blurred together, a biographical tribute. In: Thomas Houseago: Almost Human. Muse d’Art modern de la Ville de Paris.
Barker, G. (2017) Drawing as a tool for shaping community experience into collective allegory. In: J. Journeaux and H. Gørrill, eds., Collective and collaborative drawing in contemporary practice. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 192-215.
Barker, G. (2020) NEST.
Barker, G. (2018) Boat at Sea.
Group Exhibition. (2019) Breaking Ground. Patching Arts Centre, Nottingham. 11 May – 29 September 2019.
Group Exhibition. (2018) Room 103. Studio 24, Leeds. 16 November – 17 November 2018.
Group Exhibition. (2018) Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize Exhibition. Trinity Buoy Wharf, London and Touring. 29 September 2018 – 6 July 2019.
Barker, G. (2018) You and I are discontinuous beings. International Project Space, Birmingham School of Art, Birmingham. 2 May – 14 May 2018.
Group Exhibition. (2017) Fully Awake. House for an Art Lover, Glasgow. 3 November – 19 November 2017.
Group Exhibition. (2017) Imagined Realms. The Royal Cambrian Academy. 21 October – 11 November 2017.
Barker, G. (2017) Garry Barker: Piscean Promises. Curator’s Choice, Leeds Arts University, Leeds. 1 July – 31 December 2017.
Barker, G. (2017) Garry Barker: Piscean Promises. Workshop Press Gallery, Leeds. 24 June – 1 July 2017.
Group Exhibition. (2017) SKETCH. Rabley Drawing Centre, Marlborough. 21 May – 15 December 2017.
Group Exhibition. (2017) Stories from the sculpture city. The&Model Gallery, Leeds. 26 January – 18 February 2017.
Barker, G. (2016) When the past overhauls the present, you will forget that you can’t remember. Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University, Leeds. 15 April – 1 July 2016.
Barker, G. (2016) Garry Barker: Tree Listening: A Ceramic Installation. York Art Gallery, York. March 5 – May 27 2016 and March 11 – May 26 2017.
Barker, G. (2015) New Territories of the Filth Dimension. Assembly House Project Space, Leeds. 29 May – 5 June 2015.
Barker, G. (2013) There is nothing like a shave to make a pig feel like a man again. Shed Gallery, Ilkley. 15 September – 29 September 2013.
Barker, G. (2011) In the Shadow of the Hand – Narrative Drawings. Blip Blip Blip, Vernon Street, Leeds Arts University, Leeds. 13 October – 11 November 2011.
Group Exhibition. (2010) Shades of Grey. The Project Space, East Street Arts, Leeds. June 2010.
Conferences, Talks & Presentations
Barker, G. ‘Conflict and activism’, Art, Materiality and Representation: Royal Society of Anthropology annual conference. Clore Centre, British Museum. 3 June – 4 June 2018.
Barker, G. ‘Drawing as collective narrative’, Drawing Conversations Symposium. Coventry University, UK. December 2015.