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Introducing Turner Prize 2023 Shortlisted Artist, Barbara Walker

Ahead of the installation of the Turner Prize 2023 at Towner Eastbourne, we discuss one of the most talented and proactive artists of the century – Barbara Walker, taking a close look at her nominated installation ‘Burden of Proof’.

Barbara Walker in her studio, 2022. Photograph by Chris Keenan

Barbara Walker has never taken the easy route with art. Over the last 20-years the British artist has constantly pushed boundaries, figuratively and literally. 

Opting for enormous drawings painted directly onto gallery walls, her artworks have dealt with past, and still very much present, issues of racial identity, class and power, often influenced by her own experiences growing up in a Jamaican-British family.  

Since graduating from the University of Central England, Birmingham in 1996, she has received numerous awards for her visible and challenging works addressing misrepresentation.

In 2017 she was included in the first ever Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale and in 2018 she was awarded an MBE for her services to British Art.

Barbara Walker, Burden of Proof, 2022. View at Sharjah Biennial 15, Old Diwan Al Amiri, 2023. Comissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation with support of The Whitworth, The University of Manchester. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic.

Most recently, her installation ‘Burden of Proof’ commissioned by the Sharjah Art Foundation, a contemporary art and cultural foundation based in the United Arab Emirates, has been nominated for the Turner Prize.

With support from The Whitworth gallery, Walker’s installation – made up of monochromatic figures, all of which were impacted by the 2018 Windrush scandal – was first exhibited at the Sharjah biennial.

Barbara Walker, Burden of Proof 10, Courtesy of the artist and Cristea Roberts Gallery, London. © Barbara Walker. Photo Chris Keenan.

Walker layered these figures with reproductions of documents from personal and public Windrush archive’s which demonstrated the horrors families and individuals felt during this time, some of which included racism, exclusion and xenophobia.

Not only does the installation create visibility for the individuals and families affected by the scandal, it echo's one of Walker's most poignant quotes ‘With visibility comes worth, and with worth comes humanity’.

The exhibition of Turner Prize’s four shortlisted artists will be presented at Towner from 28 September 2023 – 14 April 2024 with the announcement of the winner on 5 December 2023. The Turner Prize winner will be awarded £25,000 with £10,000 awarded to the other shortlisted artists. We hope to see you there.

King & McGaw are proud sponsors of the Turner Prize 2023 at Towner Eastbourne.

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