Ever since being gifted a set of oil paints as a 12-year-old boy, Bob Barker has been captivated by what can be achieved with a brush, paint and a few small squares of hardboard.
Ideas and Inspirations
Where others see soot-blackened brick and polluted skies, Bob sees light and colour.
After a childhood spent navigating the cobbled streets of the industrialised north of England, the acclaimed painter has channelled his self-styled ‘Northern Impressionism’ into his stunning new collection, Northern Light. Drawing upon Bob’s memories of the Yorkshire mill towns that shaped his youth, the body of work is a series of tableaus that immortalise the light and shadows that have captivated him for a lifetime.
“When I paint, it’s almost – at least through my eyes – as if this northern light pours from my brush onto the canvas,” he says. “Light in the north transforms everything it touches...from the cobbled streets to the terraced houses, mills and back alleyways...they have been bathed in this light for decades.”
Wielding a palette of blacks, greys and browns, Bob recreates his working class roots through gritty depictions of work, love and play.
From children frolicking in the street to backbreaking work in the factories and the trenches of World War One, the life illustrated is far from the digital era we live in today. But from the intense shadows, there arises a pure white light and a splash of colour. It is this evocation of hope and freedom that enables Bob to weave the nostalgia he feels for his childhood into each piece.
As a child, Bob sketched the children playing around him on the pavement, using broken pottery gifted to him by his grandmother. Decades later, Bob is still sketching the world as he sees it, explaining: “The echoes of my past become my future paintings.”