Anna Barriball


'It is never only about the surface; it’s about the whole presence of the object and surface together. This is when it starts operating in a sculptural language.'

Working across a range of mediums, Anna Barriball (b. 1972, Plymouth) investigates how the aesthetics of everyday objects, from brick walls to windows, can be reimagined or transformed in unexpected ways. Much of her work generates a dialogue between surface and image, or appearance and sculptural form. In her series Windows 1–10 (2006), for instance, the artist placed small, found photographs of windows on a white background, creating disembodied portals into imaginary spaces.


Different processes of drawing are at the heart of her practice, a medium that she treats in a way that is uniquely tactile. Wall (2021), a drawing of a section of brick wall in the artist’s studio, was created by placing a large piece of paper onto a brick wall and carefully applying graphite on its textured surface. Layers of grey shimmer subtly, creating at once an illusion of a brick wall and an abstract, meditative object. Blinds (yellow and pink) (2020) is the result of the artist dusting powdered pastel onto the paper before dipping it into molten wax and folding the new surface horizontally to replicate the venetian blinds in her studio. The labour-intensive process transforms the drawing into the sculptural realm, giving the pigments a jewel-like quality.


Photography and video are also key mediums for the artist, including the colouring techniques of early cinema. Whether in still or time-based mediums, the artist has an ongoing interest in how temporality, memory and the mechanics of sight all interact.

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