Frith Street

Anna Barriball

18 Mar - 07 May 2016

New Works

Drawing is at the very centre of Anna Barriball’s practice. She uses it to explore the most mundane and overlooked objects, from door panels to windowpanes. By meticulously tracing their surfaces with pencil or ink, she magnifies incidental details and textures created by every day wear and tear resulting in works on paper that have a sculptural quality. Barriball’s drawings often seem to hide as much as they reveal, becoming more than just an investigation of domestic surfaces – she is interested in the invisible as much as the visible; the liminal space between boundary and threshold.

Barriball is fascinated by windows and their function as barriers between the interior and exterior world. The largest work in the exhibition takes the form of a three-paneled drawing based on the experience of looking out through a window at night. Made by placing thin paper over patterned glass and saturating it with black pigment and wax picture-varnish, the intensive process results in a drawing that has a burnished quality and a depth which suggests something beyond its surface. In another window-based piece Barriball has created a collage of strips of paper painted with white ink, while the reverse of the strips are coloured with fluorescent pencil. Here with the simplest of means the artist evokes light shining through closed venetian blinds.

The imprint of a door to an under stair cupboard has been made using silver ink on rag paper. Isolated from its functional setting the acute shape becomes an uneasy sculptural

form. Again the back of the paper is covered with fluorescent colour which glows around the edges of the work giving a sense of something under the stairs, of something behind the door. This sense of concealed space is emphasised in a series of works based on air vents that punctuate the exhibition.

A video work uses a found photographic image of a painting of an angel. In the small-scale projection, freed from the picture frame, the figure seems to levitate as if caught in the fleeting rays of sunlight. Other pieces in the exhibition include drawings that trace the lead-work from window designs depicting the sun’s rays and a square drawing of a window grille. Placed high on the wall, it brings to mind classic works of early modernism.


Anna Barriball was born in Plymouth in 1972. She studied at Winchester School of Art and Chelsea College of Art and Design. Barriball has had recent solo exhibitions at Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2013), and Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2012), MK Gallery, Milton Keynes (2011). Her work has been included in the recent group exhibitions The Bottom Line, SMAK, Ghent (BE), Drawing Now, Albertina, Vienna (AT), and Apparitions, Frottages and Rubbings, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (USA).

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