Friday, 9 December 2011


I've been busy having paintings delivered to Petley's in Cork Street for their Christmas show – and preparing several more for an exhibition at the Quest Gallery in Bath in the new year.

I'll post full details of what is going to be on show, and when, in the next few days.

I will also put together a list of other work which is currently available.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


I've just been sent this video of the Liverpool exhibition, including an interview I gave.

It's a couple of minutes long, and worth a look if you'd like to see more of the paintings, and some background to why I was there.

My thanks to Bill Bessant for sending this.

Friday, 18 November 2011


The exhibition of my drawings and paintings at the National Cancer Research Institute's annual conference in Liverpool earlier this month was an exciting and high-profile finale for this collection of very special work.

In my address there I spoke about how I had continued drawing and painting myself, as the model, following my cancer treatment and how – with the amazing energy and assistance of Dot Browning of Plush Art – this had become a project involving over twenty local women sitting for me.

For me, Breast Cancer LIFE was all about life – a affirmation that despite the fear of our illness and the physical and psychological scars left by our treatment, we continue to be beautiful, to be female – and that we can continue to express and celebrate this.

The women who gave up their time, who told me their stories, and who trusted me to draw or paint them during what for many was a difficult and vulnerable time – were an inspiration. They each got something different out of the experience.

Personally, I wouldn't call it therapy – they were sitting for an artist, no more, no less. But I do hope that it provided, and will continue to provide, some hope and encouragement to women going through diagnosis and treatment; and to their families and loved ones.

Those drawings or paintings which sold will shortly be passed on to their buyers, so the exhibition will be unlikely to be seen together again. The book is however still available via this link.

I'm back painting the landscapes and seascapes that I love; but I will always continue to draw and paint from the model. It's what I was trained to do, and I'll never stop.

There are some more pictures of the exhibition here. If I manage to get hold of a good quality video of my address, or the interview I gave at NCRI I will of course post them.

Update: Here are a couple more pictures from another blog.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


I spoke at the National Cancer Research Institute's annual conference last weekend.

It was a very large auditorium, and a select and knowledgable audience – so I was very nervous. The talk went very well though. Once I was up on the stage I managed to say what I wanted to say.

It was very encouraging to have so much positive feedback afterwards, both about my talk and the exhibition itself – which was on display there throughout the week.

I will put up some more photographs, and a short video, over the next day or two.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Working From The Model

Here is a short video which will be playing on large screens at the annual conference of the National Cancer Research Institute in Liverpool this weekend.

All of the Breast Cancer LIFE paintings and drawings will be on display, and I'll be giving a short presentation on Beauty, Femininity & Self-Image on the Sunday.

It feels like a fitting conclusion to the Breast Cancer LIFE project for me; an opportunity to see all of the paintings and drawings together for the last time before they go off to their buyers, and a chance to speak with cancer specialists about issues surrounding cancer treatment and self-image.

I'm very grateful that the project has given me the opportunity to draw and paint so many women from life, like Stephanie – shown above.

I'd like to thank my sponsors for the project, Chris Rudge Renewable Power and Dorset Cereals, and NCRI for inviting me to such a prestigious event.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


Earlier this year I was visited by a journalism student, Katie Elliot, from Bournemouth University – who wanted to interview me for a feature she was working on.

Katie has just sent me the results of her work.

I'm very impressed. Thank you Katie.

(Click on the images above to view them full-size)

Monday, 12 September 2011

Shelley Park to The Slade

Here are two photographs taken perhaps about five years apart, spanning my student days in the late 1980s to early 1990s.

The one above is of painter Angela Kelly, seen here in her studio space at Shelley Park in Boscombe – where the Bournemouth & Poole College of Art & Design was located in the late 1980s.

This was where we both undertook our foundation course in art prior to going on to our degrees. After this I went to Manchester, and Angela to Wimbledon.

We met up again when we were both accepted as postgraduate students at the Slade in 1989 along with Andy Pankhurst, a fellow student on our foundation at Bournemouth.

The photograph above is interesting in that it clearly shows the influence of the Slade painting style, which we got from our tutors at Bournemouth – such as Peter Malone and Howard Brown.

Painting in flat colour, with plumb-lines to carefully measure proportion are signatures of a methodology that appears to me to be quite rare these days. It is perhaps sometimes emulated, but we were privileged to have Slade-trained tutors at Bournemouth, and then to go on to study at the Slade ourselves to painstakingly learn these techniques from first principles.

The second photograph shows some of the work in my postgraduate show at the Slade in 1991. This was held at the Courtauld Institute then sited at Russell Square in Bloomsbury.

After this show I was privileged to spend a further, non-diploma, year at the Slade.

I've got my friend and fellow Bournemouth student Cecilia Kallergis Penn to thank for both of these rare photographs.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Series – Stour 3

Here is the next in my summer series of the Stour.

The position, view and composition are very similar to the previous painting, but the weather for this one was fine and sunny, though not blazing hot considering it was high summer.

Looking back on this now, as the leaves outside begin to turn, it certainly gives me a strong impression of the full bloom of summer.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Series – Stour 2

Here's the second of my recent series of paintings from the banks of the river Stour at Bryanston.

I painted this in the rain.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Series – Stour 1

This is the first of four paintings I've produced recently on the banks of the river Stour, by Bryanston weir.

Those who have followed my work over the years will know that the river is a consistent theme in my paintings – and of all my locations this is one of the most frequently visited. This painting however differs in that I'm facing in a different direction to the view I have depicted more often in the past.

I'll post the other three paintings from this series in the next few days.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


My apologies for the lack of updates here.

I've been working just as hard as ever, but I've had little or no internet connection at home now for some weeks. Following a visit from a BT engineer yesterday the problem is hopefully going to be resolved soon though.

The photograph above is the setup for another painting by the Stour at Bryanston in July. As soon as I can I'll post these up here and on my website I will.

I've also been painting some smaller canvases locally in south Dorset, and I'm working on an exciting project for my studio which I'll also explain more about in the next few weeks.

Monday, 11 July 2011


I have spent most of the last three weeks at one of my very favourite spots – next to the river Stour near Bryanston.

The riverside is busier than you might expect for somewhere which otherwise seems far from the hustle and bustle of the nearest town Blandford Forum. A few friends have happened across me as I painted, as well as the usual parade of wildlife – including hedgehogs, stoats and a nearby bees nest.

It has been a very productive time, and I'll be posting some of the results of my time there on this blog and my website in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Matt Carney

It was with great sadness that I learned this week of the death of my great friend, the Australian sculptor, Matt Carney.

I met Matt in London when we were in our early 20s. We shared a house together. He was working for Richard Branson's Virgin Group – responsible for designing and and producing architectural and kinetic sculpture and elements of interior design for their clubs, such as Heaven.

Matt returned to his native Australia in the mid 90s, dividing his time between the beautiful Tasmanian wilderness of Bruny Island, and Sydney.

Matt's reputation as a sculptor was continually growing. He was represented by a number of galleries, and had undertaken numerous prestigious large-scale commissions. One of these was his Whale Pod sculpture, near his home at Adventure Bay. The photograph above shows parts of it in progress when I went to visit him there in 2004, and gives an idea of the scale. The finished piece - 3.5 metres in diameter - can be seen here.

Other impressive work can be seen at this gallery.

I'll miss Matt so very much. He combined a deep maturity and confidence in his art with an almost childlike enthusiasm for everything that was going on around him. He was a great sounding-board for my own artistic ideas – an honest critic who would nevertheless always have sometime positive to say.

His premature death is so cruel and unexpected.

He leaves his wife Emily, and young daughter Calpurnia.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Lighthouse

The show at The Lighthouse in Poole opened officially on Tuesday evening.

I gave a short talk during the evening, which I really enjoyed. The idea is to arrange another some time next month. I'll post details of that here when I know.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Breast Cancer LIFE: Poole

My Breast Cancer LIFE show has reached its next venue - The Lighthouse in Poole.

The gallery space is on the ground floor at the arts centre in the centre of the town, and is showing for over a month.

Admission is free.

Click on the post above to view larger.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Eccentric Behaviour

I've been back outside, painting on Winfrith Heath this week.

I will write in more detail about this over the next few days. My initial thoughts however were about how exposed my particular position was to the wind and sun. Sometimes though you just have to do this – to be in the right place.

On my first day working on the painting I was discovered by a dog snuffling around in the grass, which began to bark. It's owner approached and asked what I was doing.

I replied 'Painting'.

He said 'Oh yes, my dog will bark at eccentric behaviour'.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Shipping, Literally

My visit to Geraint also provided an interesting postscript to my blogpost about the Sea Garden show at Gallery Tresco that I wrote about here.

Geraint had framed the paintings for that show well ahead of time, and had also constructed very sturdy packing boxes for them to ensure that they weren't damaged in transit.

He took a photograph of these, shown above.

The paintings were then driven to Penzance, thence onto the Scillonian III over to the Scilly Isles. The transfer from the main island of St Mary's onto Tresco would have used an even smaller local boat.

Clearly a lot of effort is involved in transporting the paintings there. It is certainly worth it for a show in such a unique and beautiful setting.


I went to visit my framer, Geraint Davies, in Frome last week – which is always a pleasure, both professionally and socially.

He had worked very hard on a frame for a painting of mine which has just been purchased by a former student of John Hinchcliffe, and I was there to collect it so that I can get it to it's new owner.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Life Drawing Classes

I recently discovered this engaging blog from an artist in Wales, about life drawing - a subject in which I obviously have a deep interest.

A recent post on the blog links to information about my Breast Cancer LIFE touring exhibition, but there is much else to read.

I particularly enjoyed reading about Hockney's thoughts on photography and art.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Gallery Tresco

I have just returned from another visit to Tresco, in the Isles of Scilly.

On Monday I attended the opening of an exhibition at Gallery Tresco, at which five of my latest paintings are on display.

It is a beautiful gallery in an amazing setting, with great light and character. The curator, Anna Parks, had done an excellent job of hanging the show.

There was a great turn-out at the opening, and my children thoroughly enjoyed playing on the beach immediately outside the gallery while I chatted to the visitors and islanders.

Monday, 2 May 2011


By Professor Simon Olding
Crafts Study Centre
University for the Creative Arts

Harriet Barber has produced a large body of work on the most demanding and deeply personal of themes. Her studies of women post-surgery are both a testament to her models who have been through the harrowing rituals of invasive care for breast cancer, and to her own treatment.

Central to this moving exhibition are two images: one, a large, ferociously-painted self portrait; the other a small and highly poignant pencil drawing. The range of emotion as well as scale between these two images is wide: unmediated anger, though the anger of life; and the gaze of dying. But if these are extremes, captured in the fleeting line and the energetic, loaded brush stroke, then what lies between is a lyrical and expressive outburst of confidence and energising personality.

Barber’s models take to their unaccustomed roles and poses with singularity and expressiveness. They have made the artist rethink the relationship between the artist as the controller and the model as the instructed. None of these women lie down meekly for the sake of the artist’s command. They loll, flirt, and lie luxuriantly and gracefully. The backdrops to the work are richly coloured textiles and intensely illuminated rooms. The women gaze back not with the bleak pain of wounds in their faces; but with a strong and intensely sharpened focus: a new focus on life, time and the need to take any opportunity with both hands and wring it for success.

Harriet Barber has built a growing reputation for her post romantic, plein air oil studies from nature: sea and beach scapes, river banks and the atmospheric rural outposts of Cornwall or Dorset. Nothing in her past experience as a painter has prepared her for this intensive investigation into psychological drama and the aftermath of gruelling hospital treatment. She has immersed herself in this project and become a stronger artist because of it.

Barber has not painted and drawn these expressive works solely for the sake of therapy, although there is medical evidence that, as the Director of the Winchester & Andover Breast Unit says, ‘the use of art has a very positive therapeutic effect which is difficult or impossible to achieve with other approaches’. She has done so to mark a distance from her own personal grief and the pain of the women who have faced their own dark journey of treatment. She has found a powerful narrative in their collective responses and their remarkable ability of self belief and the fight for life. This discovery imbues her work with lightness, colour and verve.

Barber has let her art go to accommodate these telling impulses. She has forsaken the more regimented past of her figure painting and the control and order of her Slade-trained work in this vein. In doing so she has paid her models and herself the service of honesty and openness. She has looked on these scars and found that they do not tell her about personality, courage or the impressive force of hope. Her paintings, pastel and oil studies leap out of the frame with energy, vibrancy and sometimes erotic vigour. They mark a harrowing rite of passage for herself and her models, but one that they have transcended together.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Big Frames

I visited my framer Geraint earlier this week to have a look at the frames he has made for my two recent figures-in-the-landscape compositions.

I'm really pleased with the simplicity and quality of these frames. We made a decision to keep them minimal – and Geraint has used beautiful polished wood 'tray' frames. The thinness of these frames complements the fineness and delicacy of the lines within the paintings.

These paintings have now been carefully crated up, along with three others – and are sailing today on the Scillonian III to St Marys, after which they'll make a further boat trip to Tresco, where they'll be exhibited next month.

If you'd like to see prices and a catalogue for the show contact Gallery Tresco.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Salisbury Opening

The Salisbury Breast Cancer LIFE show officially opens today at midday, although it has actually been welcoming visitors since last weekend.

There'll be a silent auction to raise money for the Salisbury Hospital Stars Appeal. This includes a beautiful handmade necklace, designed and donated by Davide Reale of Reale Jewellers.

I'll be there from about 2pm – 4pm. All are welcome.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


I was interviewed about the latest Breast Cancer LIFE exhibition, in Salisbury, by BBC Radio Wiltshire yesterday morning.

Here is a recording of the interview, in which I talk about the background and motivation behind the project.

Friday, 25 March 2011


I'm really pleased with my latest painting, of children crabbing on the quayside at Weymouth.

With this painting I've again tried to keep the freshness of the relationships between the figures and their setting, as I did with Rockpooling.

The painting is oil on canvas, and quite large at 152 x 168 cm.

Salisbury – Breast Cancer LIFE

The next venue for my Breast Cancer LIFE exhibition will be Salisbury, where it is showing at the Library Exhibition Gallery from 2 – 23 April.

Click the poster to view it larger

Sunday, 20 February 2011


I've now concluded the painting I mentioned in the last post, which I've been working on for some months.

The photograph above shows it alongside another painting I did of the rocks and beach at Osmington.

I'll be sending both paintings to Gallery Tresco, where they'll be exhibited in the Sea Garden show which starts on 9 May.

In planning and working up this painting I used the smaller painting above, which was painted from life in situ, to ensure complete fidelity in the larger studio piece.

Rockpooling is about the relationship between the figure and the landscape. The weight, movement and light of the figure as it moves across the space in the landscape has intrigued and excited me for many years – and the commission title 'Rockpool' inspired me to produce this figure-in-landscape work on a large scale.

I will write more about the whole process in future posts.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Long Haul

I've been working on a large painting in the studio since before Christmas.

This is longer than I usually spend on one piece, but this is a complex scene and composition that I've been thinking about for a long time.

I'm hoping the effort I've put in will show in the finished piece, which I'll post here when it's finished.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Lyme Time

The show at Lyme Regis is going well, and it's on until 20th February.

There's another photo on my website.

More details of the venue and opening times are here.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Lyme Regis

The Breast Cancer Life exhibition has now moved to its third location - Lyme Regis.

Having opened today at The Malthouse on Mill Lane the show is running until 20 February, and open every day except Mondays.

I'll have news about the other venues around the country soon.

Click on the poster above to view larger.


I currently have a painting - this one - on display in an exhibition at the Quest Gallery in Bath.

It's a lovely gallery in a beautiful location immediately behind the Royal Crescent.

The show is on until the 17 February, and the gallery website is here.