The porcelain work of Barnaby Barford has also been a part of my research into ceramics, his porcelain work takes objects with a long history of social propriety which have been juggled to become jarring or inappropriate. The brilliance of this is that he has managed to capture well known characters and personas in an honest light, one that makes them very contemporary and relatable.
The first one that stood out to me was this ‘Snow White’ piece called ‘Oh God, Oh God – Margaret Thatcher on a cold day’, the sculpture’s Snow White figurine flirts coyly with Sleepy; if the dwarf sports an obvious erection, then so he should. The work is about play, which is what porcelain figurines have always been about. His whole collection ‘Private Lives‘, does not only subvert from the traditions of porcelain but honours them as well. Commonly, porcelain figures were/are used for telling stories such as gypsies selling balloons or Pierrot courting Columbine in the work by Meissen or Lladro and Barfords figurines tell stories too, although their narrative is self-contained.
The second piece I picked out stood out almost immediately due to its subject of McDonalds, a very well known brand in contemporary consumer culture. ‘Salads? I’ll give them fucking salads!’ is the title of the piece and it depicts the an aged Ronald McDonald sporting a haircut shaped by a receding hairline, fists raised as he looks at the ‘Hamburglar’. The pair are surrounded by waste such as beer bottles, cans and a McDonalds branded paper bag. There is enough ambiguity in this piece to leave the viewer guessing what happened before and after this moment in time whilst the humour within the piece visually does great to engage the viewer before the title of it shifts your expectations and knocks you off-guard. One of the best things about this collection of pieces is that you could just take it at face value for it humour value, or you could take a deeper look at it and see a much darker representation within it, they work brilliantly to allow the viewer to make their own deductions and appreciate in their own way.