Place, Space and Who is a new commission by British, Birmingham based artist Barbara Walker. Exploring identity and belonging, it features portraits of women from the African Diaspora living in and around Margate.
Walker is developing the artwork through a 4-month residency at Turner Contemporary
, filling the double height Sunley Gallery with large-scale portraits and drawings made directly onto the gallery walls. Throughout the residency, Walker has been connecting with women from different generations, both longstanding residents and more recent arrivals to the area. Their stories and experiences have informed the artwork and how it continues to evolve and grow on the walls of the space.
Over 20 years, Walker has been committed to a practice of figurative drawing and painting, concerned with issues of class, gender, race, power and representation. She works in a wide range of media, from large-scale wall drawings to embossed works on paper. Responding to traditions of portraiture in Western art history, Walkers eye is attuned to the significance of symbolism, dress and framing in the construction of identity and the consolidation of power. Whether revisiting archives or depicting contemporary figures, her work is about making people visible and challenging the absence and misrepresentation of marginalised and overlooked subjects.
Responding to the architecture of the 14-metre-high Sunley Gallery, which looks out to the North Sea, and referencing 16th and 17th century paintings in the National Portrait Gallery, Walkers portraits are about reclaiming a space."
Place, Space and Who will reflect upon the strength and character of women who have been key to establishing this place as home, she says, and their respective contributions through social and cultural gestures gestures that could be large or small.
I am concerned with what it is to be seen as belonging to a minority group, says Walker, This classification of citizens sets us apart, my own experience growing up in the Black community in Birmingham has always informed my work, providing a deep understanding of what it is for a family to arrive in Britain. This moment becomes entrenched in an individuals identity, and the impact extends well beyond the first arriving generation.
Barbara Walker will be in residence periodically between 30 April and 30 August 2019.
The completed artwork will be on display until April 2020.