Barkley vies for prize

POTTER: Artist and curator Glenn Barkley with his vase, entitled I wish I was where I would be, at the doors of the Berry Showground pavilion. When the pavilion doors are officially opened for the 129thBerry Showthere will be the blood, sweat and tears of manylocals on display.
Nanjing Night Net

Amidst the beautiful flowers, hand-knitted shawls and wood craft, there will also be the work of one of Australia’s most prominent studio potters, Glenn Barkley.

Many show-goers might walk straight past and not give the vase, entitledI wish I was where I would be, a line taken from a John Clare poem,another thought.

Some might openly deride the piece as being child-like or naive in its style.

But to think that Barkley’s work is unenlightened is to ignore thefact that he has been immersing himself in art for the past 25 years.

Although he has only been working with ceramics for the past four years, he has spent most of his working life as a curator, including time as the high-profile Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

He has just been announced as one of the five finalists in the $50,000 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award run through the Shepparton Art Museum.

He finds inspiration for his prodigious output of work in many things including his garden, poetry andmusic.

“Most of my work is a response to the things around me, to popular song, the garden, conversations I have with people about art and the internet,” he said.

The fact that he has chosen ceramics as his main medium should come as no surprise, given that his mother-in-law, Lyn Havilah, was a successful production potter and one of the main judges of the ceramics section of the Berry Show for many years.

“What I love about the Berry Show is that you really have to think about your entry as the guidelines are quite strict,” Barkley said.

The work displayed in the show was both made and fired at his Berry studio and he also has a studio in Glebe.

This year is shaping up to be a busy one, with shows in Sydney and Melbourne as well as an overseas trip to gather ideas and inspiration. With other projects in the pipeline, including a book, it would seem as though Barkley is indeed exactly where he would wish to be.

Glenn Barkley with one of the large-scale ceramic works in his South Coast studio.

Barkley’s two-dimensional wall plaques consist of words surrounded by decorative roundels such as these pictured here.

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