Me Want Now, 2016

Have more, buy more, do better, move forward, grow, succeed, win. ME WANT NOW, a body of work from 2016, offers a metaphorical narrative on the dominance of this ideology and debates our values in an increasingly polarised political landscape. 

The world moves forward at a never-ending pace driven by the powerful desires of the individual feeding the engine of the ‘me first’ culture. ME WANT NOW compels the viewers to question their relationships and the world around them. 

At the heart of ME WANT NOW is a series of life-size ceramic sculptures, a queue of animals lining up, patiently waiting. Seemingly powerful creatures from the 8ft Polar Bear to the Tiger, the Wolf, the Black Panther, the Brown Bear wait alongside the vulnerable: the Baby Elephant, the Rabbit, the Roe Deer and Foal. The queue places them all side-by-side, powerless as they wait for the unknown, a visual allegory of human existence. The sense of disquiet hovers throughout reminding us of human queues – from ration queues to the dole queue to lines simply to get in.

A series of Trophy Heads in a separate room, featuring the ceramic animal heads mounted on mirrored plaques, may suggest the future of the waiting animals, offering a disturbing sense of doom. Barford once again employs the mirror to both physically and metaphorically present us with an uncomfortable glimpse of ourselves reflected in the work.

Large scale energetic Word Drawings, offered a departure from the meticulous planning, order and structure of Barford’s sculptural works. These Word Drawings embody the chaotic immediacy and almost forceful nature of the ‘me first’ mentality and act as the voice of the powerful, trapping us by offering things that ‘we’ want now, with no regard for the consequences.

The drawings appear deranged but also serene and beautiful, forming claustrophobic ‘nets’ that envelop a series of life-size animal sculptures and Trophy Heads. Repetition is carried through to these sculptures which are constructed from thousands of individual ceramic pieces featuring fragments of the Word Drawings.