Barker’s focus has been on working with a combination of industrial and sculptural materials such as metals, cement and wood – together with collage, painting and craft techniques – to create her own unique forms. Her vision is to approach her sculptures with a lightness of touch that allows something more shifting and corporeal to evolve. More recently, her work has become pared down to the point of frailty – narrow silhouettes that are either free standing, anchored to the wall or with supportive steel structures.
As an artist she is particularly drawn to literary influences. Frieze magazine notes that, “While [her] work is theoretically complex, its formal construction and appearance is deceptively simple. Her sculptures are ciphers, of sorts, for an elaborate and personal narrative comprising mostly late-Victorian and Modernist fiction, poetry and biography.”
Conceptions of what a room is and means are also a powerful theme. Reviewing her 2010 exhibition Images in Scotland on Sunday, Moira Jeffrey observes that her show “explicitly refers to the idea of a room: that space, both literal and metaphoric, that Virginia Woolf insisted every woman must have if she were to pursue a creative life”.
A current influence in her work is Katharine Mansfield’s 1918 short story, Prelude, in which a mysterious and sublime aloe plant exerts a mysterious, enthralling power over its viewers. “I want to further investigate gardens and plants as a metaphor in my work,” says Barker.