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 Contemporary, 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; British Museum, London; Somerset House, London; Royal Academy of Arts, London; National Portrait Gallery, London; the Drawing Room, London; Alan Cristea Gallery, London; Towner, Eastbourne; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham; Modern Art Oxford, Oxford; ; Firstsite, Colchester; Arts Exchange, University of Essex; MEWO Kunsthalle, Memmingen; Yale Centre for British Art, Connecticut; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia; Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada. In 2018 she participated in  the Dakar Biennale, Senegal. In 2020 she took part in the second Lahore Biennale, Pakistan and in 2023 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.

Walker’s first survey exhibition will open at The Whitworth, Manchester in October 2024.

Barbara Walker lives and works in Birmingham, England.

News, Events and Museum Exhibitions

Selected Press


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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