Private Face

Barbara Walker

30 October 2002 to 4 January 2003

198 Contemporary Arts and Learning

Barbara Walker

Focusing on the African-Caribbean community of Birmingham, where she lives, Barbara Walker produces expressive paintings depicting the social interactions that take place where people meet, such as in a church, a dance hall or a barber’s shop. These are the places ‘where the rituals and ceremonies of everyday life occur.’ The paintings present these daily activities with an eye for detail, making the viewer feel as though they are almost in the scene, particularly in her large-scale paintings. Walker aims to broaden people’s perceptions about aspects of her culture by presenting images of scenes that are not often seen within the mainstream media.

Considering her work to be ‘social documentary through painting’, Walker wishes to ‘challenge the stereotyping and misunderstanding [of the African-Caribbean community] that abounds, and offer a sophisticated and positive alternative in a mainstream setting'. As well as capturing men and women in their natural states as they go about their daily business, she feels it is important to document elderly people, ‘a group of people who are often invisible in today’s society and who hold unique memories for the community because of their status as the first generation of people from the Caribbean to come to Britain.’

Barbara Walker has shown her work extensively in the UK, with exhibitions this year at the mac in Birmingham and the Art Exchange Gallery in Nottingham.

"... ordinary people, living ordinary lives, going about their day to day business - and being painted by an extraordinary artist. ... In years to come, as much as the present time, we will thank Walker for these paintings." (Eddie Chambers, from Private Face, March 2002).