Glenn Barkley makes art about the things he sees and the things he hears. His work is hand-built and composed of fragments from art history, popular culture and botanical forms. He has a fear of empty space and tries to keep all the surfaces of his works alive as it helps him to believe that he is not lazy.
In his studio he listens to a lot of pop music. He’s amazed that lyrically and emotionally pop music often deals with very difficult subject matter like loss and heartbreak packaged in a tightly crafted package that finds you humming a tune about sadness and sorrow.
Pop music acts now in a way that poetry used to. He reads a lot of poetry for the same reason he listens to pop, the ability to strip down emotions and sensation to a line or even a word. It’s for those reasons that pop and poetry tend to be the major text references in his work.
He tends to think of America through its music (and maybe food) and when he thinks about Miami he thinks about Gloria Estefan, and for his first show at Mindy Solomon Gallery he wanted to do a work as homage to her. He finds her song ‘I Can’t Stay Away from You’ the kind of pop he really loves—full of heartbreak and loss that appeals to his maudlin sensibilities.
Barkley finds Estefan’s family story and her own personal struggle deeply inspiring. America, like Australia, is a country built by immigrants. We need to remember that.
He’s used the phrase “I know it’s just no use” from the lyrics of the Gloria Estefan song as the show’s title, as this is sometimes how he feels about making work. Barkley hopes that if people buy his pots, they might use them for something to—for a bunch of flowers maybe—but he’s not sure if they ever are.
His works are about function rather than being functional but he has such joy in making it that he hopes that comes across and that the people who see them feel that joy.
About Glenn Barkley
Glenn Barkley is an artist, writer, curator and gardener based in Sydney and Berry NSW, Australia. His work operates in the space between these interests drawing upon ceramics deep history, to popular song, the garden and conversations about art and the internet. He was previously senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (2008–14) and curator of the University of Wollongong Art Collection (1996–2007).
He is co-founder of Kilnit Experimental Ceramics Studio Glebe and Co-Director of The Curators Department an independent curatorial agency based in Sydney. He has work in the Art Gallery of South Australia, National Gallery of Australia and Artbank Sydney.