Sol Bailey Barker
How do you explain the core narrative behind your work?
There are many narratives in my work, I am influenced by multiple histories, landscapes, cultures, mythologies, fictions, my own experiences, scientific research, botany, industry, music… there are certain themes that particularly fascinate me, for example the development of tools, aerodynamics, sacred geometry…but the narrative isn’t one clear strand more a collage.
How has your work developed?
I have always made art since my childhood. For years it was a mode of escapism; then a way to try and understand my past and unravel it; later it became a way of exploring my own strange experiences but now I feel my work has moved beyond myself and deals with more universal concerns, shared histories and ideas of possible futures. My work may have developed to a very different place, but elements of ideas explored in the past often re-emerge.
What are the key principles to consider when you are putting on a show?
Most of my exhibitions are immersive installations and have an element of journeying; for ‘From Myth To Earth’ a sound track of the jungle (from my field recordings in the Amazon) was played through the space and for certain pieces, smell was the most important sense. I have personally really benefited from collaborating with other artists who work in different mediums to me, helping me to develop other sensory aspects of my exhibitions.
If you had 4 weeks to train me, how would you give me a good foundation to become an artist?
I don’t think it is possible to train anyone in 4 weeks, being an artist is a life long journey. With 4 weeks I would suggest just playing with as many different materials and mediums as possible, an important part of sustaining a practice as an artist is being able to play.
What are some key principles to producing really good quality work?
Time, understanding of materials, and focused research to name a few … Define good quality work?
In the early periods of your life, were there any particular lessons you may have learnt that motivated you to be curious?
I was an unusual child. As a young kid I lived in North Wales, surrounded by slate in an otherworldly landscape. When I was 7 years old, living in Sussex, I developed an autoimmune disease, which fully paralysed me for a year of my life; I was in a state between life and death and experienced things which were not necessarily explainable. My nervous system was eaten by my blood cells. During my paralysis, I experienced very strange dreams and visions. All these strange worlds brought into question ideas of ancestral memory. So I began to question reality at 7 and a half.
This experience combined with a fascination with history and ancient mythology, which also developed as a child propelled my curiosity as an artist.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am collecting objects from the River Thames and creating a series of tapestries and accompanying sculptural works. It’s extraordinary what you can find lying on the beach - animal bones, bolts and nails. I go down at low tide and browse. Different tides bring in different objects.
Do you have any rituals?
The entire process of my practice is ritual. Sculpture is the result of a shamanic process. Making is an act of transformation.
If you had an novice artist reading this visit what are some of the take aways you would want to share about how to manage your studio?
My studio may be full of strange objects and collections but I’m meticulously organised. All artists are different, I wouldn’t give blanket advice, it's not one size fits all, I just know what works for me. My studio is divided into 2 areas: the work area and the display area, I like having a space that’s half gallery so I can look at my work outside of the chaos of the making space.
What is your relationship to branding?
As an artist I try to be true to myself and my work and what I am trying to say. That is all I can do.
More about Sol: www.solbaileybarker.com