Tania Kovats recently chose Barbara as the finalist for the Sculpture category in the Marshwood Arts Prize. She described Barbara’s work as:
“Stunning work, perplexing, awkward, confrontational sculptures to dream about as well as stand beside.
This work wrestles with all the right questions a sculpture should”.
~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; “But art is my life?”
Barbara is an award-winning artist-sculptor working in sculpture, painting and print; talking about her motivations she says "I need to make art that talks about female experience, I make work from an imagination-based, often intimate autobiographical perspective".
Her practice has been more colourful than conventional.
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, creating a 40 ft flower from chunks of white marble on a hot hillside in Rajasthan, and carving a 7 ½ ft turquoise rabbit out of polystyrene for a residency exhibition.
She survived an authoritarian studio institution in Bristol for many years, before escaping to the other side of the world to create a new life, spending 10 years in Bangalore, South India, participating in art residencies, exhibitions and projects around India; enjoying the freedom of a new aesthetic/culture. After eventually feeling the pull of home she created a final farewell project co-organising a 4 woman India to Europe painting exhibition “Melting Pot” transporting artworks from India to Serbia to London. Venues included the Serbian Embassy, and the Nehru Centre; the Indian High Commission, in London, which event was kindly inaugurated by Juan Cruz the Dean of Fine Art at the R.C.A.
After this intense period of activity she has now returned to the UK where she enjoys the peace and independence of sculpting in her waterside studio looking out at the light on the water and the swooping seagulls.
Views on Ash'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 and the winner for the Sculpture category in the Marshwood Arts Prize in 2019.