The Summer Gallery welcomes emerging artist Francesca Barker — better known to her Denman family and friends as Tachi — Aug. 11.
Barker has been creating art on Denman all her life, but this is her first solo show as a multi-media artist. Her exhibit, titled Patterns, includes acrylic landscape paintings, drawings, print works and installation.
Barker describes herself as an intuitive artist.
Her work has several themes and many subjects, and she agrees that it might be the painting equivalent of the literary stream of consciousness technique. She began as a landscape painter but has become concerned with social issues and works to put meaning in her art.
She says her most important themes are the environment and women’s issues, in particular the history and nature of women’s traditional work, and the objectification of women’s bodies and glorification of a particular body type by the media/popular culture. Her subjects also include our inability to communicate with one another, exacerbated by sensationalism in the media and the fragmentation of meaningful issues.
The unifying element in her show is, as her title suggests, the patterns in each of her diverse subjects: patterns in nature such as the repeating forms of light on water; patterns or routines in our daily lives such as feeding a child (which rejoins the theme of women’s traditional work) or reading the newspaper, which rejoins the communication motif.
Barker works with found objects and is an avid shopper at the Denman Free Store and in secondhand stores.
She loves old sewing patterns, and almost all of her pieces have actual patterns transposed onto the canvas or material used; some barely discernible, blended into the background of a landscape painting for example, some more prominently as on one of the panels on a diptych which features a large curved bee and a piece of honeycomb (rejoining the environmental theme). She uses these patterns to add to the meaning and texture of her work.
One of Barker’s paintings features the figure of a man seated on a bench behind a large newspaper. Scattered around the canvas are sensational headlines in Arabic, Greek, Spanish and Sanscrit. Our lack of understanding of the headlines, or most of them, symbolizes our lack of understanding of what is really going on in the world around us and our difficulty in communicating with one another.
In the foreground is a tree — the source of the newspaper — which upon closer examination is actually a large piece of seaweed, bringing us back to the environment.
Barker says she would like people to find their own meanings for her work when they see her paintings.
Her show runs until Aug. 23 at the Denman Island Seniors’ Gallery. Opening night is Aug. 11 at 7 p.m.