Barker, Jo (British, contemporary)

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Jo Barker is a textile artist who works in the most ancient and painstaking of techniques: hand-woven tapestry. Spending time looking at nature in the Scottish countryside, she works intuitively, taking in the details of light, weather, and colours of the landscape and translating them into woven image.

Her current work is part of an ongoing series of tapestries exploring themes inspired by the qualities and patterns of light: transient and ephemeral starting points translated slowly into the woven form using soft, richly coloured yarns. She photographs and draws light first, manipulating images online before creating designs of gestural brush strokes in paint or ink with smudges of pastels. The marks are then captured in the slow considered construction of tapestry weaving, built up over several months by hand on a simple frame loom.

The use of colour in these works is challenging and exhilarating, connecting to the viewer's emotional response and developing a unique visual language. Colour, impregnated with threat, absorbs light. The physical intensity of Barker's finely woven structures further emphasises this, allowing the pigments to be dense, saturated and soaked into the fabric. Her deep understanding of colour and materials ultimately allows her to produce sustained explorations of surfaces, tones and textures to convey ideas, feelings and experiences.

Training in the Tapestry department at Edinburgh College of Art, Barker now works from her studio In Edinburgh whilst teaching as a lecturer at Glasgow School of Art. Her work is widely exhibited nationally and internationally and is held in private and public collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, National Museum of Scotland, and Aberdeen City Art Gallery and Museums. She has also attracted a number of awards and prizes, most notably the Theo Moorman Trust for Weavers in 2008 and 2009, and the international Cordis Prize for Tapestry in 2016.