Drawing age

Barker, Garry (2020) Drawing age. Drawing: Research, Theory and Practice, 5 (2). pp. 351-361. ISSN 2057-0384


The output is a journal article comprising of a reflection on the author’s current art practice. Research process: Barker has continued to explore the use of allegorical visual narratives to communicate and make meaningful experiences. The research consisted of a series of imaginative drawings made in response to his own aging body and the memories he has of his childhood. A second narrative developed from conversations with a neighbour was also constructed as a test to check whether or not a private narrative could be externalised. Research insights: The development of this work allowed Barker to test audience reaction to an allegorical narrative about aging in various formats, from an exhibition of large scale drawings, to a presentation to the group, ‘Life hacks for a limited future’, to a more theoretically sophisticated audience who read about drawing. The use of text to reflect upon drawnings, alongside spoken word presentations has allowed the allegorical potential of the work to reach a much wider audience than working in any one area. In particular more older people have been brought into dialogue with the work, because as a result of giving a presentation to the older people’s group, Barker was asked to develop a blog post for the Leeds Older People’s forum. The development of conversations about how it feels to inhabit an aging human body has revealed a direction for practice that has unexplored possibilities. The artist is now researching how votive practices can be integrated into his allegorical narratives and he has been given a commission to produce work exploring how to visualise the body for a variety of health and socially engaged community practices. Dissemination: The exhibition of the original drawings and associated ceramics was held in Chapeltown and was attended by over 200 people, the blog post about the issues was hosted by ‘Life hacks for a limited future’ as part of the Leeds Older People’s Forum and Barker has spoken about this work at research seminars.

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