It is twenty one years this week since Harriet's extremely successful own-show at the Cadogan gallery in London. This was held shortly after she left the Slade following the completion of her post-graduate studies.
Here is the invite/card, with one of her very early paintings of Tresco and a beautiful portrait of her friend Victoria Begbie.
Harriet Barber 3 June 1968 – 16 July 2014 Harriet died peacefully at home in Dorset, following a long and tenacious struggle with secondary breast cancer in her lungs and liver. This blog, and her website, will be updated in the coming weeks and months.
I've always been a solitary painter, you could even say anti-social. If people are going to be around when I'm working I've always I tried to tuck myself out of the way, so that I don't attract attention.
Frankly if I'm working, I want to work.
There are however other people who share the seashore or the riverbank with me, who are equally focussed on what they themselves are doing, and we do tend to respectfully 'give each other the time of day.'
At Ringstead this group includes kite surfers and fossil hunters. They too have things they want to get on with, but we do all chat and share experiences.
Kevan, pictured above with his dogs, lives near the beach at Osmington. He recovered the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur – 'The World's Biggest Bite' (otherwise known as Kevanosaurus) – and we've been having the odd chat for years while I'm out painting. He calls me 'Osmington Girl.'
It's only relatively recently in my painting career that I've wanted to incorporate incidental figures into my compositions. They help to describe the landscape as they move across it, and give context. In addition to this I feel they capture the life of the place I'm depicting, as much as do the waves, sky and seagulls.
In the weeks after the recent storms it has been particularly busy with fossil hunters, and I saw Kevin and his friend in the bright blue jacket last time I was there. Kevin's friend gave me a handful of fossils to keep. I was grateful as I never manage to find any myself.
I know Ringstead in Dorset very well indeed. I lived for a few months in a house right on the shore, and I've painted, drawn, walked and swum there more times than I can count.
Over the last couple of years I've had something of an unintentional break from drawing and painting there for a number of reasons. This week I returned with my chalk pastels and a drawing board.
I was shocked to see that the steep banks of pebbles and shingle have completely disappeared in the recent violent storms we've had. Ringstead is for the time being flat and sandy. The sea now races right up to the grassy margin very quickly in a way which I've never experienced before.
Yesterday I worked until it was dark (see final photo) and the sea crept up on me so quickly I had to wade back up the beach knee deep in water. My drawing got a little splashed as I carried it. This is a pity as the water can wash away the chalk marks, and hence diminish the vibrant colour.