Anna Barriball

2 Feb-14 Mar 2024
PV 1 Feb 2024, 6-8pm

Frith Street Gallery
London W1F 9JJ


Frith Street Gallery is delighted to announce an exhibition of new works by Anna Barriball.

Light, memory and the history of photography are some of the abiding themes in this show which brings together several new bodies of work and a moving image piece. These collectively examine the effect of light as it passes through and around objects, casting fleeting shadows and evoking distinct atmospheres. Barriball is interested in trying to capture or document such moments and reflections in her drawings, conscious too of the physicality of the materials she employs.


Windows and other kinds of thresholds have been a recurring theme in the artist’s work, depicting and inhabiting apertures and in-between spaces which are often rendered as one-to-one scale drawings. Here she investigates the overlaps and boundaries between drawing, photography and sculpture in pieces based on the large windows of her Victorian studio building. Constructed from layers of pastel-dusted, wax-coated paper, their blue hue directly references early cyanotype and photogram processes where an item is placed onto photographic paper and is exposed to light. Through this layering, Barriball recreates the effect of a cyanotype print, capturing each glass pane, allowing the intensity of the image to blur and fade, as if a photographic process has faltered.


Alongside these, Barriball has developed a series of what she calls hand-held drawings, akin to polaroid images in scale. Their creation is quite different to the larger work, as is the resulting surface quality. While the paper is again coated with powdered pastel, here it is dipped into molten wax which transforms it into a smooth, semi-translucent object marked in places by the artist’s own fingerprints. In some cases, Barriball captures the ever-changing light and tones of a seascape. In others, delicate graphite drawings of tree shadows are placed beneath the wax, their images just discernible beneath the warm orange-yellow glow. The colour references both the effect experienced when one faces the sun with closed eyes as well as those pieces of ancient tree resin in which insects have been trapped and preserved.


Afterimage (2021) consists of seven drawings that capture the play of shadows on the wall of the artist’s childhood bedroom. The shadow intensifies and fades across the sequence, mirroring the pattern of light as the sun emerges and recedes behind clouds. Accompanying this series is a moving image work documenting the play of shadows on another wall in another childhood home – that of the artist’s daughter.