Del Kathryn Barton

self and prairie dog waiting for rain, 2001
pencil, crayon, gouache and collage on paper, (two sheets)
111.5 x 76 cm – total sheet size124 x 86.5 cm – framed size
signed, dated and inscribed with title ‘- self and prairie dog waiting for rain – del Kathryn 2001 – ‘ (upper right) and further with title sewn with cotton ‘prairie dog’ (lower left)

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Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney
Acquired from the above in 2001

Drawings from California, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney, 2001
ANXIETY: the drawn image, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney, 23 August - 22 September 2001 (curator Michael Esson)

The practice of drawing is woven throughout Del Kathryn Barton’s life. Growing up in the lower Blue Mountains her childhood was imbued with the magic of her bush surrounds. She drew fairies, mystical creatures and imagined universes, taking inspiration from the creeks, trees and animals around her. As a young adult, her practice developed to be more figurative, focusing on her own self-portrait. From 2000- 2001, Barton undertook an artist in residency program in San Francisco. A watershed moment for her practice, she was exposed to the work of Louis Bourgeois and Kiki Smith; artists whose work continue to inspire her today.  

Drawings from this period offer an unflinching sense of fragility and self-reflection. Striped bear, single lines of grey-lead constitute the central figure whose blackened almond shaped eyes are impenetrable to the viewer.  self and prairie dog waiting for rain is a clear example of this early moment in Barton’s artistic development. Evoking an Egon Schiele-like sexual and personal vulnerability, Barton’s visual language allows her to explore her own inner fantasies and dreams. While being inwardly focused, these images allow the viewer a glimpse into the artist’s private universe that is intimate, sensual and anchored in the surreal. 

Barton’s earliest surviving drawings date to the mid-1990s, as a fire in the family home in 1994 destroyed all her earliest works. Despite it’s usual associations to preparatory sketches, drawing is a central facet of Barton’s practice and she continues to draw everyday. As the artists describes: ‘a show wouldn’t be complete without at least one drawing.’ 

  • self and prairie dog waiting for rain

Image courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

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"Barton's works are self referential, drawing from an emotional inner world of womanhood. The motifs, the colours and symbols in the works all bring attention to a natural force of intuition, self-reflection, sexuality and creation." - Cassandra Bird, 2014

Del Kathryn Barton was awarded the 2008 Archibald Prize by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney for a self-portrait with her children. In 2012 the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne presented a major solo exhibition of the artist's work 'The Nightingale and the Rose', which travelled to the Newcastle Art Gallery, New South Wales in 2013.

Barton has been included in important group exhibitions such as, 'Dark Heart, 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art', Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2014; 'Roundabout', City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand, 2010; 'Wilderness', Balnaves Contemporary Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2010; and, 'Contemporary Australia: Optimism', Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2008. Del Kathryn Barton is represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney and Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne.