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Reflections on sin

Ceramicist Barnaby Barford’s grand-scale floral-wreath mirrors

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Reflections on sin

February 24 2013
Charlotte Abrahams

An unsettling surprise awaits those who visit the David Gill Gallery between Wednesday February 27 and Friday April 12. Here, Barnaby Barford, the British artist celebrated for his subversive reworkings of traditional porcelain figurines, turns his wickedly wry wit upon the seven deadly sins.

The seven sculptural wall pieces, each representing a different sin and all price on request, are striking creations – large mirrors encrusted with clusters of ceramic flowers and foliage. The first response is to marvel at Barford’s craftsmanship, but closer inspection, consideration and indeed reflection reveal a darker side; many of the pretty handmade blooms bear the patina of images loaded with emotionally potent messages. The petals surrounding the bowel-shaped Gluttony mirror (first and second pictures) carry images of fast food and takeaway menus, while the beguilingly beautiful petals of Lust (third picture) bear the faces of porn stars, whose eyes are closed in a simulacrum of ecstasy. Avarice, Wrath (both in fourth picture) and the others contain their own surprises. Only close study reveals the detail and to do so is to become part of the art, as viewers’ reflections become encircled by the flowers of each particular sin.

Uncomfortable, provocative and compelling, The Seven Deadly Sins is a show that draws the viewer in – quite literally – and seduces and shocks in equal measure.