Born in Birtley, County Durham and following studies at Sunderland College of Art, the majority of Barron's working life as a full-time artist has been spent in his native North-East, apart from periods in Australia, Cornwall and London. He has recently relocated and now works from his studio in Southampton.
I work with mixed media and oil on canvas. If my work is about anything, I think it maybe an attempt to express vague musings about the passage of time made corporeal through certain images, surfaces and textures.
Some of my work is made from waste card that I collect from local outlets. I like the idea of recycling material which has been discarded and thrown out as refuse, and turning it into art. Colour - earthy browns, greys, yellows and greens - is kept minimal as an alternative to the high gloss of most modern advertising imagery and also to emphasise the surface and texture of the work. I then cut, tear and paint the various pieces. Sometimes I will attempt to remove this fresh oil paint to reveal parts of the text on the card, or I will score and scratch the surface or sand it down to reveal the corrugations beneath. Sometimes I may collage into the work a printed image such as a Graeco-Roman statue or, as I am interested in astronomy, I may depict suns, moons and constellations or include simple geometric shapes such as circles or squares. I am also interested in leaving human traces such as a hand or foot print.
I also like the idea of working with slate because of the age and nature of the material. Slate is of sedimentary origin, formed from the deposits of minerals collected on the beds of ancient seas millions of years ago. Movement of the Earth's crust, retreating seas and glaciation meant these ancient sea beds emerged to the Earth's surface where they were eventually quarried by man to provide shelter from the winds and the rain. The slate I use has served this purpose and is eroded and marked by exposure to the elements as well as by man-made pollutants in the atmosphere. I take the slate after it has been discarded, wash away remaining grime and scratch into it or leave traces of some description, a hand print or footprint perhaps, and then assemble the various pieces. I am interested in the journey from the seabed to the quarry, from the quarry to the rooftop, and from the rooftop to the artwork.
Recently I have made a return to painting with oil on canvas. Some works are abstracts using geometric shapes of circles, triangles and squares. In others, I incorporate realistic images from the Ancient world; domestic objects such as spoons or fragments of pottery; suns, moons or constellations; or human hand or foot prints.
Writing about Richard Diebenkorn's 'Ocean Park' series of paintings, Robert Hughes wrote that "one heard neither the chant of surging millions, nor even the chorus of a movement, but one measured voice, quietly and tersely explaining why this light, this colour, this intrusion of a 30-degree angle into a glazed and modulated field might be valuable in the life of the mind and of feeling".
I am interested in the life of the mind and of feeling, but, nevertheless, people confronting the work will make of it what they will.
I have recently joined ArtCan, a non-profit arts organisation that supports artists through profile raising activities and exhibitions, an open network of ‘likeminded’ peers, and practical support structures.
Bob Barron's interview for Time Past and Time Present Retrospective show in DContemporary, London 2019.