Barbara Walker

Barbara Walker was born in Birmingham, England, in 1964. She studied at the University of Central England, Birmingham, and completed post-graduate studies at Wolverhampton University. Her work is informed by the social, political and cultural realities that affect her life and the lives of those around her. Growing up in Birmingham, her experiences have directly shaped a practice concerned with issues of class and power, gender, race, representation and belonging. Her figurative drawings and paintings tell contemporary stories hinged on historical circumstances, making them universally understood and reflecting a human perspective on the state of affairs in her native Britain and elsewhere.

In 2023 Walker was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts and shortlisted for the Turner Prize. She was the 2020 Bridget Riley Fellow at the British School at Rome. In 2019 she was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours for services to British Art and in 2017 she exhibited at the 57th Venice Biennale as part of the Diaspora Pavilion. In 2017 she received the Drawing Room Bursary Award and inaugural Evelyn Williams Drawing Award in association with the Jerwood Charitable Foundation. She has previously been an artist in residence at Facebook’s headquarters in London.

Walker’s recent solo exhibitions include Cristea Roberts Gallery (2022), Turner Cotemporary, Margate (2019), Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (2018), Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham (2016), James Hockey Gallery at University for the Creative Arts, Surrey (2015) and New Art Gallery, Walsall (2013). Significant group exhibitions in the UK and internationally include Tate, London; Firstsite, Colchester; Arts Exchange, University of Essex; SCAD, Savannah, Georgia; Somerset House, London; Yale Centre for British Art, Connecticut; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Alan Cristea Gallery, London; MEWO Kunsthalle, Memmingen; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham; Modern Art Oxford, Oxford; the Drawing Room, London. In 2018 she participated in  the Dakar Biennale, Senegal. In 2020 she took part in the second Lahore Biennale, Pakistan and in 2023 new works are being shown in the Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates.

Her work is held in private and public collections including the British Museum, London; Government Art Collection, London; Arts Council England, London; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham; Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry; Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College, Clinton NY; and Yale Center for British Art, Connecticut.

Barbara Walker lives and works in Birmingham, England.

Barbara Walker has been shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2023

One of the world’s best-known prizes for the visual arts, the Turner Prize is awarded to a British artist for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the preceding year as determined by a jury.

Barbara Walker has been shortlisted for Burden of Proof, a new body of drawings reflecting upon the stories and experiences of individuals and families impacted by the Windrush scandal in Britain, exhibited at the Sharjah Biennial 15 earlier this year. The jury applauded Walker’s ability to use portraits of monumental scale to tell stories of a similarly monumental nature, whilst maintaining a profound tenderness and intimacy across the full scope of her work.

The project was commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation with the support of The Whitworth, The University of Manchester.

The four shortlisted artists are: Jesse Darling, Ghislaine Leung, Rory Pilgrim and Barbara Walker. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 5 December 2023.

A free exhibition of the Turner Prize nominee’s work will be exhibited at Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, 28 September 2023 – 14 April 2024.

Photo: Angus Mill, 2023. 

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Book: Barbara Walker

The first book dedicated to Barbara Walker’s art includes new writing by Paul Gilroy, Sarah Martin and Aïcha Mehrez, alongside an interview with the artist by Courtney J. Martin. Published by Turner Contemporary.

Winner of the 2023 Historians of British Art Prize for Exemplary Exhibition Catalogue.

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