Martha Barr - BA (Hons) Fine Art

The Stages of Being

Martha Barr's work addressing the many contradictions surrounding the body, from functionality and reproduction, to sex, cosmetic surgery, censorship and aging. She embraces the realities of our ‘volatile, messy, leaky, bodies’ that society deems too 'ugly' or 'grotesque', creating sculptures that depict our visceral embodiment with immense honesty.

The Stages of Being is an ongoing series of durational installations where the artist grapples with the raw unpredictability of clay, embracing its weight and spillage. A clinical metal frame and fragile glass intravenous drip-bags support and feed the knotted, fleshy terracotta shapes, re-emphasizing their fight against gravity and time. Gradually, the mass grows, in turn spilling, swaying, dripping, ripping and pulsating, as if alive.

Lying at the centre of Barr’s investigation is her obsession with clay, building an intimate relationship with her forms as she physically manipulates, smooths and becomes absorbed into her medium. Intuitively she builds large organic vessels using the traditional method of coiling, rendering clay as flesh. What results are haptic, ambiguous post-human forms that exist in a singular time and space. Ultimately, they dry, crack, and fall allowing it to be recycled into an entirely new entity, leaving only a complex web of slings and ropes where it had once precariously hung.

Although vast in scale, Barr's anthropomorphic organisms remain intimate, imbued with a melancholy – holding the emotions we hide within ourselves. At their heart, they speak of themes around sex, atrophy, violence and death, and allow Barr to blur the boundaries of what's functional, fragile, threatening, theatrical and surgical. Ultimately, over time, Barr feels an overwhelming need to protect them while having to surrender to something already lost.