The Aesthete: Barnaby Barford talks personal taste

Artist Barnaby Barford’s wryly humorous and contemplative ceramic-based work includes celebrated sculpture commissions for the V&A and Louis Vuitton

Barnaby Barford at home in London
Barnaby Barford at home in London | Image: Rick Pushinsky

My personal style signifier is a buttonhole made from a gold porcelain flower. It’s one of thousands that I used to make Pride (2013), the largest of my mirrored sculpture series exploring the seven deadly sins.

The two towers, Asinelli and Garisenda, in Bologna
The two towers, Asinelli and Garisenda, in Bologna | Image: Alamy

The last thing I bought and loved was a David Shrigley print called Another Task For You. It speaks about our sense of entitlement in a lighthearted way that makes me laugh – and think. Jealous Gallery, 53 Curtain Road, London EC2 (020‑7739 4107;


And the thing I’m eyeing next is a White Static drawing by Keith Harrison. These colourful, abstract pieces were inspired by the fact that one per cent of the static on our screens comes from light from the Big Bang. I really like the thought process behind them; it’s like taking a peep into the workings of the artist’s brain.

Barford’s Rapha Loopback jacket, £130
Barford’s Rapha Loopback jacket, £130 | Image: Rick Pushinsky

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a dark-green Rapha Loopback city jacket. It’s a breathable, windproof, water-resistant cycling jacket with reflective features that fold away – so I can wear it to meetings and galleries. £130;

A Fist to Cry On (2015) by Harland Miller
A Fist to Cry On (2015) by Harland Miller | Image: Courtesy of Harland Miller/White Cube (Ben Westoby).

A recent “find” is Vinoramica, a new, independent wine shop in Highams Park, east London, which specialises in smaller-production wines – and beers – from around the world. The owner, Matt Thomas, is incredibly passionate and knowledgeable. 9B The Broadway, London E4 (020-3719 7374;

Barford’s porcelain flower buttonhole
Barford’s porcelain flower buttonhole | Image: Rick Pushinsky

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Provence, on a cycling trip with a friend. As we reached the pass on the Col de Perty, we were treated to the most stunning view of the Alps I’ve ever seen – a sight I hope to have etched in my mind for years to come.

His S2L Brompton bike, £950
His S2L Brompton bike, £950 | Image: Rick Pushinsky

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a couple of stones my sons picked up at the Venice Biennale last year. I have a collection of rocks and pebbles from places we’ve been, each with a story to tell. These will always remind me of walking round the pavilions with them.


An object I would never part with is my S2L Brompton bike, which I have used every day since I bought it a year ago. It’s fast and fun. From £950;

In my fridge you’ll always find a huge piece of Parmigiano Reggiano and a salami from a delicatessen in La Ferrara, Modena, close to my wife Valeria’s parents’ home. We eat the Parmesan in lumps with balsamic vinegar. Salumificio Val Dragone, Via Provinciale Sud 27, 41046 Palagano. (+3905-3696 1567).

The artists whose work I would collect if I could are Harland Miller, Jenny Saville, Clyfford Still and Joan Mitchell. If it were ever in my grasp. I’d build a collection of works by many people, starting with paintings by them. Their work invites you to look closer.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Bologna, a vibrant city steeped in history and culture, with great food and the foothills of the Apennines just outside it for cycling. Climbing the 900-year-old Asinelli tower is essential, as is a trip to the Parco della Montagnola to see the incredible 19th-century concrete sculptures of lions fighting with their prey. I love the covered market, Mercato delle Erbe, where I go for the fresh local pasta, and Michelemma, which has the best pizza. For a night out, I head down to the Pratello area, just outside the old city walls, where the whole neighbourhood comes alive: people move from bar to bar, talking on the streets. Mercato delle Erbe, Via Ugo Bassi 23 (+3905-123 0186; Michelemma, Via Riva di Reno 60 (+3905-152 1154; Parco della Montagnola, Via Irnerio (+39051-1998 4190; Towers of Bologna, Piazza di Porta Ravegnana.

My favourite website is, a music site that streams DJ mixes.

See also