MOCA Virginia Exhibition, 2013

In 2013, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art hosted the first US solo exhibition by Barnaby Barford. The exhibition was curated by Alison Byrne, Director of Exhibitions and Education at MOCA, and Andrée Cooke, Independent Curator based in London. The show featured a survey of Barford’s sculptural works exploring and celebrating the human condition, usually with a sinister or sardonic theme.

Barford’s work draws a portrait of our contemporary lives with an ironic choice of medium. “MOCA is delighted to introduce Barford to new audiences in the United States,” says MOCA’s Alison Byrne, who has been following Barford’s work for several years. “Viewers from all backgrounds can relate to his themes, fostering self-awareness as well as appreciation for contemporary art. A large part of MOCA’s mission.” A kitsch figure of a 19th century peasant boy becomes a 20th century teenage thug in a hoodie; rustic maidens dancing on a bed of roses brandish guns; a charming scene of a Victorian family shares a meal of copious buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

"Barnaby Barford's use of ceramics fuses contemporary application with tradition; his witty use of language and content is a dynamic rare blend which sets him apart from his contemporaries. His style is highly distinctive and provides a critical commentary of western contemporary culture.”

Andrée Cooke 

Working in ceramics, Barford takes existing objects and figurines, which are often of a sweet and sentimental nature, and alters them to create narratives, often hinting at the darker side of life. Barford is interested in exploring humanity, warts and all, but by subverting a medium the public are quite familiar with.

In Summer 2014, Barford’s solo exhibition at MoCA Virginia showcasing his work from the previous decade travelled to Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Press play to watch Barford’s interview with Summerhall TV where he explains a bit about his thought process and how he started to work with figurines: