Sol Bailey-Barker (b 1987) is a British multi-disciplinary artist working primarily with sculpture and performance. His works fuse historical and sociological research with an inquiry into the power and symbolism of materials, tools and everyday objects. Informed by archeology, geometry, mythology and a diverse range of contemporary and ancient spiritual practices, his work seeks to re-consider history from a non-colonial perspective.
Throughout Bailey-Barker’s life he has collected objects from natural and man-made environments. Varying from Neolithic tools to contemporary refuse, some have value historically, culturally, emotionally, whilst others are simply interesting for their form or materiality. These objects have been collected from house-clearances, mud- larking, found in wildernesses and junk yards. He is particularly fascinated by tools and the way they have been animated and revered over time.
Sol Bailey-Barker studied Performance and Visual Art at Brighton Faculty of The Arts. His recent exhibitions include From Myth To Earth (funded by the Arts Council England) and Wyrd Then : Weird Now at The Koppel Project in London. In October 2017 he will be exhibiting at Galeria Impakto in Lima, Peru. In 2016 Bailey-Barker was invited to exhibit his monumental sculptures Forms Shaped Through Time in Holborn Circus (City of London). Bailey-Barker’s works are in both private and public collections including Riverhill Himalayan Sculpture Garden (Kent). In 2016 he was artist in residence at the OUTSET residency in Tel Aviv, in 2014 he was in residence at Lugar a Dudas in Cali, Colombia and Portico Di Romagna in Italy. He was awarded the 2017 Ashurst Sculpture Prize, shortlisted for the Brian Mercer Award in 2016 and selected for the first National Sculpture Symposium in 2014.
Bailey-Barker’s work has been featured in FAD, Avenir Magazine, After Nyne, This Is Tomorrow, Nomadic Press, Pocko, Guardian and recently in a documentary about his exhibition From Myth To Earth produced by Tariq Ali for TeleSur.
MR. BAILEY BARKER—WHERE ARE YOU :
The work of Sol Bailey-Barker draws its breath from myths, legends and mathematics. He courts the earth with sculptures that balance like satellite dishes upon ancient cairns. His pieces evoke the stars and spectrums of deep carbon. Hollowness, balance and light fused with deep thoughtful meditations on being, change and symbol.
The great metal hoods of his pieces escape in spires of metallic smoke. The charred oak bases dropped like the cool stones from the dreams of beings that breath in alien ways. They look the way a Jurassic shark might see her own shadow beneath her as she glides through an ancient sea, reflecting the turning storybook of space in the watery warp of water above her.
There is an ineffable quality of blending in Bailey-Barker's pieces—of reckoning the edge. One can feel that the sculptures are both independent and in asymmetrical communion with one another. They resonate in tonal conversations with agendas beyond time. They are artifacts of heat, diamond pythons pouring upwards. At their best, they alchemized the sculptor’s longings into codicized sequences, beautiful flowers, whispered incantations that dance like stories of the void from mouths of dreamy shamans. Each a thistled crossbow considering nature beyond the limits of ordinary.
Each piece retells the Promethean myth. The lighthouse, the column, the court of starlight. Sacred territories exploring discipline with the rules of shadowlessness. A thought escapes from the head of a sacred storyteller. A blowtorch spits a flame. A database on a distant planet triangulates a node in space with sunlight caught in a pair of sacred stones. The great geometric metal wings rise like the pixelated bones of dragons in spectral flights up from the cobalt ashy earth.
These pieces exist between man, earth and dreamtime. Between yin and yang, between dissolution and rebirth. Like spirits passing between sundial and fire pit. Each one has an invisible entrance drawn from a clean mountain shadow—a piece of a code ushered forth casually in the morning light on a temple step. Inner phantoms commune with natural beings in a point of balance among these pieces. The way explorers might stand side by side calibrating a sextant and telling stories of the moon.
To succeed in communing with these pieces is to make progress in the understanding of shape-shifting nature of all that appears to be solid. We live in the myth that our cleverness will get us safely through reality. Bailey-Barker’s beacons remind us of forms hidden beneath the surface that we had not even begun to consider. They are bodilessness invoked into shapegazers in the lineage of the great stone wonders that protect some of the sacred places of our world. An elder lifts up a blanket to reveal the skull of a holy animal on the earth below. The transmission occurs in plain sight and yet is uncapturable.
Writer: James Thomas Thomas is a Canadian poet, folk musician and writer based between London and Vancouver. He has released three solo albums and composes songs envisaging them as paintings. His work is informed by the wild landscapes of Canada, the contemporary cosmopolitan experience and a multitude of writers and artists including Blaise Cendrars, Walt Whitman and Milton. http://jamesthomas.io
Editor: Harriet Poznansky
Poznansky is a British artist currently based between Oakland and London. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art London and School of the Art Institute Chicago. She currently works from her studio in Oakland’s Fruitvale district, making paintings, music, and writing short stories. www.harrietpoznansky.com