Last month, friend, artist & collaborator David Walker Barker passed away. We had met through ASLE in 2016, and worked intensively on a place-based collaboration for the next 18 months, exhibited at Judy Tucker’s In the Open in Sheffield 2017. David was endlessly generous to me & no doubt to many others, always happy to open his studio – in reality a small museum full of prehistoric life, minerals & rocks, glassware & ceramics & other artefacts of deep time – to anyone who showed an interest. He was kind in a gruff Yorkshire way. Our collaboration went over the Pennine landscapes of his childhood, and the work for him a personal as well as artistic excavation into the layers of landscape. I think it was his last sustained project.
When I heard the news I was in a small village in central Spain, ecologically important for the quantity of its sabinas, a twisty-barked tree that likes dry, thin soil & plenty of space, and which is globally endangered, but there very common. I went out to the forest with a pad of paper & pencil, thinking I would draw, which I rarely do. I sat in front of a sabina whose trunk had been split in two, perhaps by lightning (the summer storms there are frequent & dangerous, but luckily the horizon of the landscape is so large you can see them a day before they hit you), and drew slowly for about 2 hours. I think David would have liked it here. Here is the drawing, as well as some of the text-image slates David & I worked on together. For DWB.