Tess Barker - A Vessel’s Journey

Tess Barker

A vessel’s Journey

3 March – 16 April, 2018

Exhibition Opening
Saturday 3 March, 2018 at 2pm

By David Mac Laren OAM
Artistic Director Bungendore Wood Works Gallery

Exhibition continues until 16 April

Tess Barker

Growing up in and around Sydney’s Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Tess took pleasure in documenting the beauty of the natural environment through drawing and photography.

While studying printmaking for her undergraduate in Newcastle, NSW, she discovered her favoured print medium – the Japanese vinylcut. The meticulous aspect of carving can be seen as a dedication to the subject that each piece explores.

Heavily inspired by the work of Margaret Preston and other female Australian printmakers of the early and mid-20th century, Tess endeavours to emulate the sense of balance, composition and bold design found in their works.

She often uses watercolour to hand colour her limited edition relief prints, creating one-of-a-kind artworks within each limited edition.

With her “Double Degree of Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Fine Art, with Honours” from the University of Newcastle in hand, Tess moved to Canberra and began an exploration and documentation of the vegetation and bird life of the Bush Capital’s National Parks.

A Vessel’s Journey

From the Golden Age of Dutch exploration to more recent interpretations of Delftware, the story of blue and white ceramics is a fascinating one.

For ‘A Vessel’s Journey’ Tess was initially inspired by her mother’s collection of Chinese and Japanese vases and plates, but the body of work has since evolved into a much more personal interrogation of self-identity, family history and ongoing evolution of the artist as an individual.

Tess explains: “The refers directly to the trade routes created by the Dutch through Asia, the aesthetic evolution of ceramics designed for the European market, and the subsequent journey these items undertook as European families migrated to Australia. The ubiquitous willow pattern can now be commonly found in most second hand stores and stacked in the back of dusty cupboards throughout suburban Australia (including mine!). I was motivated by the challenge of elevating the commonplace to reclaim ‘blue and white’s’ lost status and reinterpret the motifs I remember from my childhood into a fine art context.”

“The vessel as receptacle also gained new and personal meaning for me last year while preparing for this exhibition when I confirmed that I was expecting my first child. The contours and silhouettes of the vases I was drawing resonated with me as my body evolved throughout my pregnancy, reflecting the evolution of me as an artist and of the works I was creating. As I lost mobility to print large editions later in the pregnancy, I decided to concentrate on hand colouring the prints that I had produced up to that point. I found this process deeply rewarding and mediative and it provided me with time to reflect on my purpose as a receptacle for new life and my approaching journey into parenthood.”
Hand colouring allows Tess the to create elements of individuality and spontaneity in the prints, as she slightly alters the colour-ways and brushstroke application with the creation of each artwork.

“‘A Vessels Journey’ has been a long time in the making and I would like to thank Stan, David and the rest of the BWWG family for their patience and guidance during my journey.

I am almost as proud of the works presented here as I am of our beautiful son, Martin, who arrived safely in June last year following the first leg of his journey, and my partner, Tony, who is sharing this journey with us. I hope you enjoy the exhibition and catch a bit of ‘blue and white’ mania.”

Among her many solo and group exhibition credits; Tess was Awarded Second in the youth section of the Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize in 2010 held at the South Australian Museum, Accepted for the 2011 Lloyd Rees Memorial Youth Art Award, Accepted for the 2012 Avant Card Emerging Artists Initiative and a participant in the 2013 Group show: Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize