British artists Barnaby Barford and Alice Hawkins have come together at Spring House for a joint exhibition that doesn’t just hold a mirror up to life in Blighty, rather it shatters the mirror and throws the shards at its more lamentable elements.
‘The Good, The Bad, The Belle’ combines a new series of Barford’s ceramics with a selection of Hawkins’ portrait photography. Barford's work is getting darker since our last foray into his witty figuines. His ceramic tableaux combine fairytale characters with hooded youths, wielding weapons, ‘happy slapping’ or tucking into a KFC family bucket. The unlikely use of porcelain figures and fairytale characters all with cherubic faces and blond locks – a refined medium more associated with granny’s mantelpiece than an art gallery – serves to highlight the unpleasant woes of ‘broken Britain’.
Hawkins’ photography is less direct in approach than Barford’s ceramics but every bit as powerful in its implications. Investigating glamour and aspiration in its barest forms, her photographs tell the story of fragile dreams and broken realities – Miss East Anglia competitors photographed in full regalia at home in their bedrooms for instance. There’s nothing patronising about her portrayal though – she leaves that up to the viewer - which in turn leaves you wondering who ‘The Bad’ in the title of the exhibition really refers to.
Alongside the ceramics and photographs, Barford’s animated film, ‘Damaged Goods’ is being shown on Saturdays throughout the show’s run. Set in a china shop it’s a classic ‘wrong side of the tracks’ love story between an upmarket lady figurine and the figure of a boy on sale. It might be a sad tale but it’s a smashing addition to Barford’s repertoire and one we hope to see more of in the future.