Though he works with clay, artist Glenn Barkley hasn’t had a lot of training in ceramics. It has all been keen observation and intuitive, hands-on experimentation, bar a six-week hand-building class he took with Cath Fogarty at Clay Pool in Sydney. Employing ‘straight-forward’ coiling and other hand-building methods, he works out of Kil.n.it Experimental Ceramics Studio in Glebe, and also his family home in Berry on the New South Wales South Coast.
Following a lauded showing at the 2018 Auckland Art Fair, comes Glenn’s new exhibition, Imayimightimust. This title is a positive affirmation that appealed to the artist, and no, we didn’t forget our spacing there. ‘I tend to use language in that way on my work – I use words a lot and the words always run into each other. Like a hashtag,’ Glenn explains. ‘Quite often they are so dense and hidden in the pots that they are totally obscured.’
The words themselves, if you’re a keen-eyed-enough to discern them, are drawn from popular songs or poetry. This prose has been emblazoned on 10 ceramic pots – including one work made from 25 separate elements (!) – as well as new collages, paintings, and a large-scale paste-up wallpaper.
The 45-year-old artist admits he’s somewhat of an obsessive-compulsive collector and researcher of cultural artifacts. He’s interested in the idea of time as well as archaeologists Heinrich Schliemann and Sir Arthur Evans – a fascination born from his first watch of Raiders of the Lost Ark. ‘I went and saw the objects that Evans collected at The Ashmolean Museum in May last year. There was a lot of pottery, including the amazing Minoan octopus jar,’ muses the ancient-history buff. And how do these inspirations come together in a cohesive body of clay work? ‘I have jammed everything together as if a great compost of history!’ Glenn asserts.
He doesn’t just mean ‘compost’ figuratively either. A student of horticulture, Glenn’s penchant for botanical motifs, particularly cacti and succulents, is clearly evident in his art. ‘I find that gardening is quite closely aligned to exhibition making,’ he says. ‘I use colours in my work that I think come from the garden, lots of different shades and tones of green for instance, and I have compared my work to a compost pile of sorts.’
When asked how Imayimightimust compares to past exhibitions, like Overundersidewaysdown and Yetmorecontemporaryart, the artist is characteristically tongue-in-cheek: ‘Most artists believe the newest body of work is the best one!’
Imayimightimust by Glenn Barkley
June 7th to 23rd
Opening night and artist talk Thursday, June 7th 6-8pm
799 Elizabeth Street
Zetland, New South Wales
Glenn Barkley will also be both artist and curator for the exhibition, Meditation on a bone: Albert Tucker beyond the Modern at Heide Museum of Modern Art in September this year.