From Sharne Wolff…
Glenn Barkley, Like a Cactus Tree – for JM, 2016. Earthenware 53 x 35 x 34cm. Courtesy the artist and Utopia Art Sydney © the artist
Glenn Barkley, Spice Island, 2016. Earthenware & stoneware, labels by Lyn Havilah, 46 x 41 x 41cm. Courtesy the artist and Utopia Art Sydney © the artist
Glenn Barkley, Sad But True Metallica Pot, 2016, Earthenware, 56 x 21 x 21cm. Courtesy the artist and Utopia Art Sydney © the artist
Q. Although you’ve been a curator and writer for many years, you’ve burst onto the scene as an artist in the last couple of years. Has it been a fun ride?
Glenn Barkley: Fun but busy.
I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the response to my work – I’m glad I started making again! I studied to be a painter so always felt a bit fraudulent being a curator without an art history or arts administration degree or some such.
I think being an exhibiting artist is making me a better curator.
Q. Right now your work is showing in two cities with Magic Object, the 2016 Adelaide Biennial, shortly to make it three. How have you kept up the pace?
GB: It is important to wake up as early as you can.
I can only do it because of the great people around me – my wife and family; Holly and Ivan from The Curators Department; Rachel, Bev, Eloise, Madeleine, Connie, Holly, Jenni, Kati and Amanda at Kil.n.it [ceramic studios in Sydney].
Q. What have you made for Magic Object?
GB: I have made an installation called ‘The Museum of the Worm’ after the Kunstkabinett of Ole Worm, which was made and written about in the 16th century. It consists of a series of collages, a big group of pots and a large ceramic roundel mounted on the wall.
There are references to popular songs by Metallica, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. It is inspired by our garden in Berry, the Art Gallery of South Australia’s decorative arts collection and by the history of ceramics.
The walls and tables in the room are fluorescent and it has a bit of gold in it too.
Q. Your CV describes you as an ‘artist, curator, writer and gardener’. How has your penchant for gardening influenced your art?
GB: My work responds to things I see in the plant world – shapes, colour and texture.
Gardening is infinitely more difficult than curating or making pots and is never ending – in equal parts deeply satisfying and deeply frustrating.
Q. What’s next for you in 2016…?
GB: I am in shows at Edwina Corlette Gallery Brisbane Return to Beauty (curated by Vipoo Srivilasa) from 29 March – 16 April and Watching Clouds Pass the Moon at Lake Macquarie Gallery (curated by Ineke Dane) June 10 through July 31. After that it’s Stuck in the Mud at Verge Gallery Sydney in September curated by Madeleine Preston.
Q. And your dream gig?
GB.: I think I have the dream gig – things are really busy at The Curators Department as well as with the artwork. Although it would be nice to spend more time in the garden – right now it’s just done in guerrilla-like bursts.
Q. What’s another question I could have asked?
GB: ‘Is it true you are curating the Biennale of Sydney in 2018?’
See Glenn’s work in:
Utopia Art Gallery, Sydney
Until February 27
The 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art
Art Gallery of South Australia
Until May 15
The Garden of Earthly Delights
West Space, Melbourne
Until March 12.
Glenn Barkley is represented by Utopia Art Sydney: Heiser Gallery, Brisbane and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne.