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  • Paul Wakelam

Anna Barriball – New Drawings, Frith Street Gallery

Light, memory and the history of photography are some of the abiding themes in this exhibition which brings together several new bodies of work and a moving image piece. These collectively examine the effect of light as it passes through and around objects, casting fleeting shadows and evoking distinct atmospheres. Barriball is interested in trying to capture or document such moments and reflections in her drawings, conscious too of the physicality of the materials she employs.

Windows and other kinds of thresholds have been a recurring theme in Barriball’s work, depicting and inhabiting apertures and in-between spaces which are often rendered as one-to-one scale drawings. Here she investigates the overlaps and boundaries between drawing, photography and sculpture in pieces based on the large windows of the Victorian building where she has her studio.


Constructed from layers of pastel-dusted, wax-coated paper, Studio window (blue fade) is one of the artist’s largest drawings. The blue directly references early cyanotype and photogram processes where an item is placed onto photographic paper and exposed to light. Through this layering, Barriball recreates the effect of a cyanotype print, capturing each glass pane, allowing the intensity of the image to blur and fade, as if a photographic process has faltered. No physicality of the studio window remains but rather a ghostly preservation; an impression left.

For this exhibition Barriball has developed a series of what she calls hand-held drawings, relating in size to polaroids. Their creation is quite different to the larger work, as is the resulting surface quality. While the paper is again coated with powdered pastel, it then is dipped into molten wax, transforming it into a smooth, semi-translucent object marked in places by the artist’s own fingerprints.

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