David Barton London, United Kingdom
Born Bury Lancashire 1943. Goldsmiths College and ATC Course. On the ATC Course I became a student of Anton Ehrenzweig, whose emphasis on the process of searching for and testing out ideas with words, drawings and paintings in what he called “Tease & Worry Books” in order to find, clarify and develop meaningful imagery, became the necessary core of my work.
The compulsion to work each day is a need to realize – to find – images which make known to me my immediate and ongoing predicament – to tell me my experience of here and now. And to deserve these glimpses which are the realized images or sequences of images, I have to undergo whatever the process demands – even if it means several days or even perhaps weeks of empty search and piles of worthless spoil and desperation. I try to bring no preconceived intentions or ideas to this struggle; if it is to be a process of discovery it must be a dialogue in which I, not knowing, am asking the work, which knows, to answer. When I am making marks, I am watching for a reply. Even the most insignificant unintentional or accidental mark is capable of leaping to life and demanding to be pursued and explored. It is inevitable working in this way each day, mainly with a black ball point pen or a brush and gouache paint, pursuing imagery which is continually evolving, that single images can often only be fully understood when seen in relationship with those from which they evolved and those which they developed into. Because of this, in 1976 I realized that I had to present my work in book form. I had 200 notebooks which were begun in 1964 while studying with Anton Ehrenzweig. I chose sections from these and in 1977/8 I published VULNERABLE SUPPLICANT with an Arts Council Award. Since that time I have published about 300 books chosen from countless paintings and drawings. I work at speed – at speed accidents happen – the “other” within the work, with whom I am in dialogue takes control. Work often appears before I am aware and I can only be grateful for it happening and pursue as thoughtfully and thoroughly as possible the ideas that have been stirred up and tossed about. Each day the most important thing is to be able to touch the emptiness – to make a mark – and to work until I receive a reply.