Barbara Howey

This is a new series of paintings based on plants. They are taken from photographs I take on my daily walks. The photographs document the species of plants seen, not rare but local, some native and some finding a space to grow where seeds have blown them from suburban gardens and wastelands, an ancient bluebell wood and a woodland due to be “developed”, field edges and roadside verges. I use the photographs when I get back to my studio as a basis for the paintings.The paintings are made rapidly, wet into wet, in an attempt to capture the aliveness and vitality of the plants and the fleeting moments of the plants precarious lives.

My paintings use a black ground, commonly found in 17th and 18th century flower painting which many female artists excelled in. The ground acts as a stage for the gestural marks that make up the plant structures. The spaces of the painting are ambiguous and can be seen as a backdrop to the flowery and fruiting displays of the plants.

Barbara Howey’s first degree was in painting at Leicester Polytechnic in 1991. She then studied for an MA in Feminism in the Visual Arts at Leeds University in 1992. She completed a practice-based PhD in 2001 at Norwich University of the Arts. She has shown Nationally and Internationally and has had work featured in The John Moores Painting Prize, The Lynn Painter-Stainer Prize and PS Mirabel Painting Open. She completed a 3-month International Residency in Norway at the Norsk Kunstnercentre, Dale in 2018. She also co-edited a volume of Journal of Contemporary painting called “Commitment in Painting” in 2017. She works and lives in Norwich, Norfolk.

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