Rosie Barker

Rosie Barker – Thames Narratives

The River Thames is a powerful carrier and depositor of objects from the past and the present thrown, tipped or washed into its course. Collecting these objects disgorged onto the foreshore has become a compulsion for me – they intrigue, excite, amuse and delight.

This exhibition gives me the opportunity to share some of these feelings and to highlight the qualities of some of these finds.

I begin with the general melee of the variety of artefacts that can be found in the city river – cascading out of the upturned supermarket trolley. Most are fragments – the amount that survives, even in fragmented form is remarkable.


Then I select and re-present artefacts to show their interest or beauty. Some are displayed singly – they are already entities; others are arranged as assemblages to give them more impact, to re-vitalise them or to show thoughts that occur to me when I contemplate my collection. You will see my flights of fancy.

Natural objects also feature whether they are the driftwood, beautifully turned and moulded by the river, shells, – native and imported, giant barnacles or fossil corals that were amongst the ship’s ballast. The intricacy and diversity of oyster shells also attract me. A couple of years ago while doing wire sculpture I almost subconsciously found myself fashioning an oyster shell and binding it and one sculpture led to many more.

Finally, a word about my two-dimensional works: my constellation paintings are inspired by the fragments of iridescent glass or ‘stars’ found glimmering on the foreshore. I employed a watercolour technique used by Bernd Koberling for the glass fragments to convey their luminosity. As for my drawings – I have often thought that clay pipes, en masse, resemble fish and have tried to imbue the shoals of fish with movement and purpose; also to present the fossil corals as having attitude.