In conversation: Katie Barron
Image: Katie Barron, Arm Candy. Photo: courtesy of the artist.
Taking inspiration from op-shops and snack food isles in the supermarket, the work of Tasmanian artist Katie Barron will have you captivated through hyper-realistic re-creations of objects and items found in daily life.
Working with the medium of oil paint, Barron finds that each different colour used in her work uncovers a whole new world to explore.
“Not only am I excited about the physical properties of oil paint, but also the chemical properties as this can influence their colour, their lightfastness, their handling, and more. The physical nature of the paint takes it beyond the limits of two-dimensional imagery,” Barron said.
“Through my work, I want to share a sense of joy and humour above all else.
“When I reflect on what I can offer society I always come back to the same thing—just a bit of fun.
“Sure, there are serious themes that can be pulled from my work but at the end of the day the reason I put brush to canvas is to just share a bit of joy.
“When I'm in the studio making work, it feels like I am turning off the conscious part of my mind and operating on instinct.
“I think most great things come from a state of flow where time sort of blurs and your hands are left to do what they do best.”
Image: Katie Barron, Sugar Baby. Photo: courtesy of the artist.
When asked about the artistic influences within in her practice, Barron said she has found great inspiration from the art of tattoo culture.
“I was influenced by skilled tattoo artists in my area of Canada like Don Petersen and Damien Robertson early on,” she said.
“Their drive to continually improve their work and take inspiration from all aspects of life was inspirational. There are so many incredibly skilled tattoo artists pushing the art form to new places and they continue to inspire me.
“The landscape of Tasmania feeds my soul with all the necessary fresh air and exercise I need to be happy, but it's the history and the people that really drive my practice.
“Tasmania's rich history of agriculture and food production are of interest to me and while the beautiful farm fresh foods on offer are wonderful, I find myself attracted to the products that become of them after processing even more.”
Image: artist Katie Barron working in her studio. Photo: courtesy of the artist.
While reflecting on what advice she would share with other emerging artists, Barron said it’s helpful to know what style of career they would like to achieve in the arts, alongside finding support from industry institutions and individuals.
“I have learned that there are many paths to a career in the arts and income can come in many forms,” she said.
“The path someone takes will depend on where they want to end up. If you know where you want to be, you can look to others who have achieved similar success and evaluate the steps they took to get there.
“Support from well-connected institutions and individuals can connect emerging artists with those who can help them grow their CV and confidence, alongside assistance with the nitty gritty details of taking work from a local small-scale practice to something bigger.
“Without experienced art professionals to guide or mentor emerging artists, we are left to try and needlessly work out these details independently when the information is already common knowledge among more experienced art professionals.
“Like many emerging artists, I work casually and forever struggle to find a balance between having time to make work and pay the bills. Sometimes I mostly work, sometimes I mostly make art. Art income can be fickle, especially when you move away from all of your collectors and dealers so I am always ready to pick up more work should the need arise.”
Image: Katie Barron working on an oil painting in her studio.
Many emerging, early career artists in Tasmania experience similar challenges as part of their practice, with Barron sharing that, at times, it can be difficult to be successful with various funding bodies while still starting out.
“It can be challenging that many funding bodies and institutions want to support artists that have proven they can complete projects in the past, however this isn’t possible without being offered these opportunities previously. It's hard at times to convince them you are capable of undertaking projects such as public art works or large solo exhibitions,” Barron said.
“Being an artist featured within the exhibition RISE means accessing a section of the arts industry that I have found challenging to enter as a self-taught artist.
“The opportunity to work with QVMAG provides experience in working with institutions that can help inform my practice and hopefully take my career from ‘emerging’ to whatever is to come next.”
Arm Candy (2022), Jelly Beans on Toast (2022), Peters Twin Pole Separated (2023), Shiny (2023), Under Wraps (2023) and Single Scoop (2023) by Tasmanian artist Katie Barron are on display at the Art Gallery at Royal Park within the exhibition RISE until 15 October 2023 with free entry.