Still life continues to play an important role in Elizabeth Barnett’s latest body of work where Australian flora is encroached upon by ivy in compositions that draw directly from the artist’s surroundings. Patterned tablecloths draw the eye through compositions – across, up and around – while floral arrangements loosely set in jars and vases, focus the eye to the centre. The water within Barnett’s vessels reflects captivating light and colour, causing a jumble of broken lines. The same is true of the books within Barnett’s compositions, favourite cookbooks and manuals whose colour and rigid shape intersect the picture frame.
The striped tablecloth, often in blue, draws upon the artist’s interest in the art historical meaning of the colour within art history. Blue has been historically used to denote royalty or used in sacred imagery due to its former rarity and high cost as a pigment. This association sits in contrast with Barnet’s humble, organic compositions.
The intensity of blue, juxtaposed with the artist’s usual pastel palette is a departure from previous works – in particular, Barnett’s summer partings. A cooling down of the overall composition hints at the winter when these works were made, as well as a stripping down of intensity of the artist’s palette. The painting takes on its own life in these works, with areas of abstraction dancing between form and composition, and opposing colours clash and marry to create a body at work that despite its still life subject, is alive with movement.
Elizabeth Barnett studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts Printmaking at The Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne
2002-2004; a Bachelor Fine Arts Honours – Printmaking, RMIT, Melbourne, 2006; a Masters of Arts- Illustration, Camberwell College of Art, London, 2008-2009; and was awarded the Collie Print Trust scholarship at the Australian Print Workshop in 2006. Barnett founded Schoolhouse Studios Inc with Alice Glenn in 2010, a not-for-profit artist studios complex in the former St. Joseph’s Technical College in Abbotsford.