words Anna Bates
Shit! Daddy’s Going to Kill Me – a Burberry-clad little girl leaning over a beheaded deer – is among the ten pieces in British ceramicist Barnaby Barford’s recent series.
Called The Noir Collection, the pieces are made using ceramic figurines from charity shops and flea markets. Barford reconfigures the ornaments, adding parts from other figures and painting them. The hybrid forms act as a vehicle for his dark, humourous storytelling (see icon 022).
“It’s a bit childish – you get in the heads of the characters and start telling a story. It’s like playing with your toys and giving them names,” says Barford.
We’re Hoping He’ll Grow Out Of It shows a pair of Kama Sutra figurines on the dog lead of a wealthy lady. So Where Are These Free Burgers? relays the story of Ronald McDonald’s daughter, who has brought her boyfriend home to play only to realise that he’s just come for the food. “There’s a bit of heartbreak there,” says Barford.
“I use figurines because they were on your grandmother’s shelves. They’re objects you might dismiss – so it disarms the viewer when they’re used in a different way,” says Barford, an associate lecturer on the ceramic design course at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design, London. “But I’m not doing it for the love of figurines, I’m passionate about the material.” Despite the recent revival in kitsch ceramics, courses in the craft are undersubscribed. “People got stuck in the rut of thinking ceramics is pottery. We need to make the treatment of the material more broad.”
The series joins an ongoing collection of almost 150 one-off pieces that Barford has designed for David Gill Galleries in London, and will be shown at Design Miami/Basel in June