Claire Barber is an artist and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fashion and Textiles at the University of Huddersfield with an interest in the interconnection between place and the way people are connected to their surrounding environment. Drawing directly from her experience and understanding of textiles and using site-responsive methods of research her aim is to develop a relevant practice that has a transformative effect in communities.
Barber has pursued a peripatetic career exhibiting widely and completing over twenty artist-in residency and commissioning models in the UK and across Eastern Europe, Australia and Japan. The practice, which has been broad ranging, has included temporary installations, interactive and socially engaged works as well as sculptural and architectural interventions. The nature of site for Barber is far reaching and could be contained in the physical division within a community which marks the arrival of a new road, a holy site of 20,000 saints, a temporary office dropped into a museum, the front of a transport ticket, a gold-mining ghost town, an abandoned sleeping bag left at the end of a music festival or a glove making factory in a small village in Somerset.
Between 2010 and 2012, a collaboration with Steve Swindells at the former Snibston Discovery Museum in Leicestershire led to the book ‘Mining Couture’, published by Black Dog (2012) and provided the opportunity to deepen an investigation into the relationship between fashion and mining previously explored at gold-mining ghost towns in Australia (1998-99). While Barber’s most recent installation at Hull Paragon Railway Station, as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, explored the phenomenon of ‘transmigration’, and the notion that craft skills and belongings traverse transport routes alongside people. Other featured artists included Nayan Kulkarni, Bob and Roberta Smith, Michael Pinsky, Tania Kovats, Sarah Daniels and Claire Morgan.
Barber has exhibited extensively most recently Contextile 2018 Contemporary Textile Art Biennial, Guimarães, Portugal and a further installation as part of the ‘Migrations’ exhibition curated by Jessica Hemmings and presented at Huddersfield Art Gallery (2016).
Claire’s exposure to textile impacts on her approach to her practice as much as community contexts. This is exemplified in her research with the writer and academic Penny Macbeth, who have contributed to a number of journals, papers, books and conferences some of which they have co-convened and co-edited themselves. For example, the book ‘Outside: Activating Cloth to Enhance the Way We Live’, published by Cambridge Scholars (2014) explored the complex and multifaceted relationship humans have with cloth, and examined the constantly evolving fields of expression outside traditional gallery, institutional or campus settings.
In 2016 Claire Barber received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Publication in recognition of a programme of work entitled ‘Cloth in Action: The Transformative Power of Cloth in Communities’ evidence of her investigation into the significance of textiles as an aesthetic experience within a socially engaged form of practice, some of which involves other people.
CV & Education
2016 Doctor of Philosophy by Publication (PhD), University of Huddersfield for a programme of work entitled ‘Cloth in Action: The Transformative Power of Cloth in Communities’
2002 Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP), University of Southampton
2000-01 Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Art and Design (secondary), University of Brighton
1992-94 MA Fine Art (Tapestry), Royal College of Art, London
1989-92 BA (hons) Textiles (First class), West Surrey College of Art & Design, Farnham
2009- Senior Lecturer BA/BSc (hons) Textile Practice, University of Huddersfield
2001-09 Lecturer BA (hons) Textiles, Fashion and Fibre and MA Textiles, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton
2017 The Train Track and the Basket, presented as part of the project ‘Look-Up’, a major programme of temporary art commissions for Hull UK City of Culture 2017.
2012 One to Twenty, a 13-foot inflatable sculpture commissioned and curated by Somerset Art Works. Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England (collaboration with Steve Swindells).
2011 Mining Couture: A Manifesto for Common Wear, a collaborative project with Leicestershire’s County Council’s Snibston Discovery Museum and commissioned as part of the ‘Transform’ arts project developed by Maurice Maguire supported by Arts Council England and Leicestershire County Council (collaboration with Steve Swindells).
2009 Littlemoor Wishes, a temporary installation created with the residents of Littlemoor during the building of the Weymouth Relief Road in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. Supported by Arts Council England and Public Art South West.
2008-9 You Are the Journey: North Staffordshire, a public art commission presented as part of ‘Place Space & Identity 2’ project by B Arts and supported by Arts Council West Midlands, Renew N.Staffordshire & Stoke County Council.
2005-6 You Are the Journey, a redesign of the Hythe Ferry Ten-Journey Ticket as a focus for reflection, combining the functionality of the ticket with an interactive public artwork supported by Arts Council England and SEEDA Award Scheme for Art in Public Places (collaboration with R.A.Webb).
2004 Stepping Lightly on 88 Pillows, a participatory installation presented as part of Westonbirt Arboretum International Festival of the Gardens Art Programme, Gloucestershire.
2002 Hammocks, a collaborative project with The Samling Foundation as part of the ‘Land and the Samling’ arts project at Kielder Forest in Northumberland and residential site-specific workshops at Kielder involving 60 ‘A’ level students from across Tyne and Wear.
1998 Untitled installation using feathers, acrylic and mirror in response to The Ark building in Hammersmith, West London and created as part of Seagram’s ‘Art in the Ark’ contemporary art collection presented by Contemporary Art Society Projects.
1996 Four window screens created for the dining room of Belsay Hall, Northumberland as part of ‘Living at Belsay: A Contemporary Approach to Furnishing an Historic House’ project developed in partnership with English Heritage, Northern Arts and Northumberland County Council.
1995 Untitled, an installation created from industrial knitted fibres for ‘FAST’ at the Exhibition Hall, Verona, Italy and presented by Susan Minter Design Consultancy & commissioned by Continental Fibre S.p.A
1994 Untitled, temporary 20-foot installation located at Habitat Kings Road flagship store in Central London.
Residencies, Fellowship & Community Activities
2019 Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences, a socially engaged artwork involving 2 x community centres in Inner City Bradford and supported by an Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant (collaboration with June Hill and Leigh Bowser)
2006 Artist-in-Residence for the Conwy Estuary Strategic Route development project, supported Conwy Council Borough Council
2004 Artist-in-Residence at Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown, Wales
2003 Through the Surface Textile Artist exchange to Kyoto, Japan & mentee to Teruyoshi Yoshida and directed by Lesley Millar
2001 Artist-in-Residence at Bardsey Island in association with Bardsey Island Trust and Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales
1999 Artist-in-Residence at Northern Territories University, Darwin, Australia
1999 Workshops, Karulundi Aboriginal Educational Centre, Meekatharra, Australia
1999 Artist-in-Residence at Geraldton Regional Art Gallery, Western Australia
1999 Artist-in-Residence at The Tasmanian School of Art at Launceston, University of Tasmania, Australia
1998 Visual Arts Fellowship awarded jointly by the Sir Robert Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, London and Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
1998-9 Artist-in-Residence at Marlborough College, Wiltshire
1996-7 Pépinières Européenes Pours Jeunes Artistes residency in sculpture at Academy of Fine Arts & Design, Bratislava, Slovakia
1997 Artist-in-Residence at Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, Kent
1996 Member of the Artists’ convoy to Bosnia to join Tuzla’s first annual festival of multi ethnic arts
1996 Artist-in-Residence at Acoomb First School, Northumberland
1996 Norbury Park Sculpture Weekend coordinated by Roman Vasseur and commissioned by Surrey County Council
1995 Artist-in-Residence at Cwrt Sart Comprehensive School, West Glamorgan, Wales
2018 Contextile 2018, Contemporary Textile Art Biennale, Palácio Vila Flor CCVF, Guimarães, Portugal
2016 Migrations, Huddersfield Art Gallery, West Yorkshire, curated by Jessica Hemmings
2016 Contextile 2016, Contemporary Textile Art Biennale, Palácio Vila Flor CCVF, Guimarães, Portugal
2016 Da Vinci Engineered: From Renaissance Mechanics to Contemporary Art, Zebedee’s Yard, Whitefriargate, Hull
2015 Repetition Variation, Frameless Gallery, 20 Clerkenwell Green, London
2015 Pinpoint 2, One Church Street Gallery, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
2013 Pinpoint 1, One Church Street Gallery, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
2012 Hidden Voices: The Sleeping Bag Project, The Knitting and Stitching Show, Harrogate International Centre
2012 Mining Couture, Huddersfield Art Gallery, West Yorkshire and Snibston Discovery Museum, Leicestershire – Barber Swindells
2012 One to Twenty, The Glove Factory, Yeovil, Somerset – Barber Swindells
2011-12 Bite-Size, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London tour to Gallery Gallery, Kyoto; Nagova University of the Arts, Tokyo
2011 VI International Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art, The Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum, Mexico City
2008 Art Vaults: Season 4, King John’s Palace, Southampton, Hampshire
2006 Quiet Sound, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, Northamptonshire
2005 Artsway Open 05, Artsway, Sway, Hampshire
2004-5 Through the Surface, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, tour to Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts; Piece Hall Art Gallery, Halifax; Nottingham Castle; The James Hockey Gallery, Farnham
2004-5 River/Forest, Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown Wales tour to Crichton House, Cardiff (two man show)
2004 Sharing Rose Bud Tea Across Continents, Fabrica, Brighton tour to Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, Halifax & the Yard Gallery, Wollaton Hall, Nottingham
2003 Art in Heaven, The Meeting House Chapel, University of Sussex, Brighton
2003 Feather, Black Swan Arts, Frome, Somerset
2002 Land, Artsway, Sway, Hampshire
2001 Roam, Coed Hills Rural Art Space, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales
2000 Ideal Format # 10, 24Hr Art, Darwin, Australia
1999 Meelfabriek, Clinch’s Mill, Greenough Hamlet, Western Australia
1999 Tears to Wake the Flowers II, Watch This Space Gallery, Alice Springs, Australia (solo show)
1999 Tears to Wake the Flowers I, Northern Territories University Gallery, Darwin, Australia (solo show)
1999 The Red Gown, Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, Western Australia (solo show)
1999 Residency, The University Gallery, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania (solo show)
1998 Red Brick, Mount House Art Gallery, Marlborough College, Marlborough, Wiltshire (solo show)
1998 Tempered, Fabrica, Brighton
1997 Contemporary Craft, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Cumbria
1997 The Last of the Dandelion Seeds, Gallery Cyprián Mayernik, Bratislava, Slovakia (solo show)
1996-98 Objects of Our Time, Crafts Council Touring Exhibition, Crafts Council Gallery, London tour to Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast; Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh; Lynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea; Manchester City Art Gallery; American Craft Museum, New York
1996 Living at Belsay: A Contemporary Approach to Furnishing an Historic House, Belsay Hall, Northumberland
1994 New Discoveries, Boundary Gallery, London
1992 Seventh Annual International Textile Contest, The Fashion Foundation, Minato-Ku, Tokyo
2014 Outside: Activating Cloth to Enhance the Way We Live, published by Cambridge Scholars, 131 pages, ISBN 978-1-4438-5695-9 (co-editorwith Penny Macbeth).
2012 Mining Couture, published by Black Dog Publishing, Sept 2012, 160 pages, ISBN 978 1 907317 92 7 (co-editor with Steve Swindells).
2010 Littlemoor Wishes, published by University of Huddersfield Press, UK, ISBN 978-1-86218-082-6.
2007 Quilting the Estuary, published by Public Art Wales and Conwy County Borough Council, ISBN 978-0-9508201-3-2.
Published Journal Articles
2019 Mining textiles: Extracting multi-narrative responses from textiles to rethink a mining past. In The International Visual Culture Review, 1 (2), pp.33-42, published by Global Knowledge Academics. Retrieved from https://journals.epistemopolis.org/index.php/image/issue/view/203
2016 Crafting the community. In Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 8 (1), pp. 59-71. ISSN 2050-7003 published by Emerald Publishing.
2015 Craft in unexpected places. In Craft Research 6(2), 275-285, doi: 10.1386/crre.6.2.275_1., published by Intellect Journal (collaboration with Penny Macbeth).
2015 The sleeping bag landscape. In Craft and Design Enquiry (7) 49-69, published by Australia National University (collaboration with Rowan Bailey).
2014 Weaving technologies in the construction of a ferry ticket. In Radar, 4(1), 36-37, published by University of Huddersfield Press.
2011 More than charity: Textiles in daily life. In Making Futures: The crafts as change-maker in sustainably aware cultures published by Plymouth College of Art. (collaboration with Steve Swindells).
2010 Resident social journey. In Radar, 1(1), 8-9, published by University of Huddersfield Press.