Works of mysterious inspiration

Works of Mystery and Imagination by Dale Devereux Barker, at Chappel Galleries, Essex, until August 10With an eye on the Beijing Olympics, the Chappel Galleries are showing printmaker Dale Devereux Barker's latest exhibition, an artist who must have spent hour's poolside.

Works of Mystery and Imagination by Dale Devereux Barker, at Chappel Galleries, Essex, until August 10

With an eye on the Beijing Olympics, the Chappel Galleries are showing printmaker Dale Devereux Barker's latest exhibition, an artist who must have spent hour's poolside. The body of this exhibition are his amazing portrayals of swimmers and divers, caught at various angles and often shown from an unusual perspective.

The Sprinter, a linocut, and Second Superhero, a large unique lithograph, both show a goggled figure, wearing a tight swimming cap, in diving position. The former is posed fingertips to the foreground with his body disappearing behind him, while Second Superhero is head first, arms close to his body, diving (or flying?) Superman-style.

This playing with the viewing-angles of male swimmers demonstrating different swimming strokes, is a recurring theme of the exhibition and frequently I found myself smiling with pleasure. In Kicker the figure is shown in a flurry of blue and yellow air bubbles in red water but from the viewpoint of the soles of his feet! The figure is joined, in Busier, a mixed media work, by other three-dimensional fellow swimmers, tumbling and diving into the water, their bodies raised against a background of similar silhouettes. The figure even appears in Pot of Gold, a mixed media still life of a , a riot of oranges and yellows, as a tiny dancing blue man, just overlapping the lower edge of the collage.


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While at the exhibition, also look out for the works made from vitreous enamel, where powdered glass is fused onto metal by firing at high temperatures. This results in a colourful highly polished metal surface, similar to the sheen found on a car. Especially pleasing was Oops Upside Your Head, with the random leaf-like shapes fitting together like a puzzle, or you could play “spot the difference” with Tweedledum and Tweedledee, a pair of paintings, both dark green jugs of flowers (outlined in white spots), against a brown background marked like a wooden parquet floor. Also don't overlook, displayed on the gallery windowsill, the three small etched granite tiles, Bar Scene, Still Life with Leaves and Influenced.

This is an exhibition of an artist confident in his ability. The work is full of movement, colour and playfulness. It takes risks, and is not afraid to challenge the viewers expectations. I am quite expecting to remember the images of Dale Devereux Barker's divers and swimmers as I watch the competitors in the Olympic pool in China.

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Rachel Sloane

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