~As a young girl Barbara was asked by a family friend (as they do) “What are you going to do when you grow up?”
She replied “I will do my art”.
“No”, he clarified “What will you do with your life?”
She replied plainly; without hesitation or pretence; “But art is my life”.
Art has been central to her life since she was 4 years old~
Barbara Ash’s practice has been unconventional.
...Over the years it has manifested in many ways and in many far-flung places – making a 2 metre square sculpture out of snow in the House of the Red Army in Moscow for an International Ice and Snow festival, enjoying a hilltop performance on a costumed camel in rural Rajasthan, carving a massive block of sandstone in a forest at a symposium in Czechoslovakia and various other symposium events around the world from Belgium to India.
She has doggedly made work in the confines of her bedroom, carved stone outside in the sweltering summer sun in Cyprus (foolishly without sun cream), and somehow survived authoritative art administrator dictats in a big studio complex for far too many years, then escaping to the other side of the world to recover.
For 10 years she had a practice based in Bangalore, participating in a range of art residencies and shows across India, doing diverse things like making a 40 ft flower with marble chunks on a hot hillside in Rajasthan, carving a 7.5 ft turquoise rabbit out of polystyrene blocks on a suburban balcony, then co-organising a 4 woman India to Europe painting exhibition, struggling with multiple rolled up canvases at airports. After this intense period of activity she has now returned to the UK where she sculpts eccentric things on a boat by the Bristol Channel….
Views on Barbara's work
Ash’s work “relates to the atmosphere of old fairy-tales and the kind of children’s stories in which adults rediscover child-like sharpness, truthfulness and innocence as well as gravity. As such, her work can be understood in any culture. The element of naivety in Barbara’s aesthetic belongs to toys, simple utilitarian things or decorations and a dose of kitsch.”
Marta Jakimowicz, Deccan Herald, Bangalore.
“In a single frame, Barbara Ash juxtaposes objects, figures, patterns and landscapes distanced in time and space, producing new meanings and creating personalised simultaneous narratives. There is a sense of fragmentation and loss, offset by feelings of irony and humour induced by the sometimes incongruous visual pairings.”
Lina Vincent, curator and art historian, 2016.
Barbara Ash graduated with a Masters degree on the Sculpture programme at the Royal College of Art and was awarded the prestigious Henry Moore Fellowship from the Henry Moore Foundation based for one year at Canterbury College of Art. She has been awarded several Artists Grants from the Arts Council of England and was a recipient for the Year of the Artist Award and was a "Judges Favourite" (Mary Allen; ex-Secretary-General of the Art's Council of England) in the British Women Artist Annual 2015.