Skip to main content

David Walker-Barker

Honorary Member

David Walker Barker lectures in the Department of Contemporary Art Practice in the School of Design at the University of Leeds.

His interest in aspects of geology and landscape evolution developed whilst at the Royal College of Art continuing as a significant preoccupation in relation to the artworks he makes. He has recently completed an AHRC research project working in collaboration with “Killhope”, The North of England Lead Mining Museum producing a range of art works relating to the North Pennine Landscape and its extensive hard rock mining history.

Landscapes and geological contexts have provided reference points for a range of visual works including paintings, drawings and painted constructions. The following comments reflect a fascination for quarried and mined environments and a deep and abiding interest in the diversity of landscape.

'When I look at the landscape it is not the hills, rivers and woodlands that I see nor the industrial landscape or urban sprawl but layers of time stretching back to the beginning of the universe.'

Quarries and mine workings, both in operation and abandoned, became an inspiration many years ago though not initially for artistic reasons. As an art student fascinated by geological contexts and with a personality obsessed by collecting, the deep histories revealed in such excavations became a special focus. They were places where traces of those histories were made visible and were avidly visited in search of fossils and crystallised minerals. From the layers of time embodied in the disrupted strata came all manner of discoveries. Superb ammonites from abandoned alum shale excavations on the North Yorkshire Coast, deep toned amethystine quartz from the volcanic rocks of the Peak District, Derbyshire, and from an abandoned quarry in the North Pennines the most spectacular and perfect crystals of colour zoned fluorite speckled with brilliant diamond like crystals of quartz. These are a few of the many and diverse finds made over the years. Importantly the quarried and mined environment has provided a visual theme for art works that have reflected both the structural complexity of geological processes and the cultural and industrial dimension of their impact upon landscape forms and in particular the people who toiled in those industries.

That broader landscape context embodies an extended history as a sort of document in which the text has been partially erased and re-written continually. This sense of layering is a quintessential characteristic of physical landscapes creating the nexus for the convergence of geological, biological and human histories. Landscape becomes a portal into an infinite web of interconnections so aptly stated by Richard Fortey in his publication ’The Earth’ :

'All the intimate details of landscape and culture are rooted in geology. The true measure of the earth could be that slow overturning of the mantle that calibrates the march of the tectonic plates. The record of the rocks on earth is consistent with plate activity over some four billion years. During that time the planet has changed from barren to prolific. Earth and life became progressively interlinked and during all this slow transformation the motor of the earth reshuffled the continents and oceans, a leisurely progression to which life had no choice but to respond. Were it not for a thousand connections made through time, the outcome might have been different, and there may have been no observer to marvel and understand. We are all blessed with minds that can find beauty in explanation, yet revel in the richness of our irreducibly complex world, geology and all'

This statement aptly summarises the range and diversity of David Walker Barker's visual works. Simultaneously it identifies a fascination for land surface, the complexity of environments, for a sense of place, the human condition and for what he terms 'deep nature.' This encompasses the subatomic and microcosmic realms linking transformational and evolutionary events through deep time to the present moment.

His work is governed by a compelling insight that reality is structured on the principle of synchronicity; everything is everywhere present at all times. Like the landscape and the processes that underlie it, Walker Barker's visual works identify and reiterate many of his main and enduring themes.

'Phenomena subtly interrelated in a manner beyond the grasp of ordinary logic, causality at a deeply intuitive level, consonance between ourselves, other realms and other entities in a process beyond conscious awareness, 'events in and through deep time'.

His visual works are no longer images of landscapes, they are not representational, topographical or scenographic, but are re-enactments of events and forces, and the underlying dynamic processes that fill every level of existence. They allude to the continuous retelling of the story of life from the most archaic of origins, human and non-human, conscious and material, historical and natural, life before life ever was, the whole burgeoning livingness of matter.

David Walker Barker

March 2007


  • 1965-68
    • Dip AD, Sheffield College of Art and Design
  • 1968-69
    • ATD, Goldsmiths College, London Universty
  • 1969-72
    • MA, Royal College of Art

Current Teaching

Lecturer, Department of Contemporary Art Practice, School of Design, University of Leeds

Previous teaching:

  • 1991-2003
    • Subject Leader in Painting, B.A. Fine Art, Bretton Hall College, University of Leeds
  • Pre-1991:
    • Associate Lecturer in Fine Art, Department of Creative & Performing Arts, Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic
    • Lecturer in Painting, Bretton Hall
    • Visiting Lecturer at Birmingham Polytechnic, Trent Polytecnic, Royal College of Art
    • Lecturer in Fine Art, Salford College of Technology
    • Lecturer in Painting and Foundation Studies, Barnsley College of Art
    • Lecturer (Departments of Painting and Sculpture), Sheffield Polytechnic

Research Sabbatical

  • 2005-06
    • AHRC and University of Leeds

Awards and fellowships

  • 1970 / 72
    • David Murray Landscape Fellowship
  • 1971
    • Andrew K. Lloyd Fellowship
  • 1972
    • British Institute Travelling Scholarship
  • 1974/78/79
    • Yorkshire Arts Association Awards
  • 1975-76
    • Dunhill Fine Art Fellowship (Sheffield Polytechnic)
  • 1977
    • Arts Council Major Award
  • 1978
    • Yorkshire Arts Association Major Award
  • 1979
    • Fellowship in Industry (Y.A.A.)
  • 1979-80
    • Fellowship in Visual Arts (Bradford University)


  • 2007
    • Social Impact of Artist Exhibitions: Two Case Studies (Translations byJim Pattison and In Search of a Hidden Landscape by David Walker Barker)
    • A case study investigating the impact of arts and humanities research specifically concentrating on visitor responses and reactions.
    • Annabel Jackson Associates for AHRC. AHRC publication
  • 2006
    • In Search of a Hidden Landscape Book with essays by David Walker Barker, Dr Chris Rawson Tetley and Professor Peter Davidson. ISBN 1 902721 14 4
    • Realities and Histories: In Search of a Hidden Landscape Journal of Visual Art Practice.Vol.5, No’s 1 &2 October 2006
  • 2005
    • Contained Histories Catalogue with essays byI.Biggs and D Walker Barker, and C. Rawson Tetley ISBN 1 902721 10 1
  • 2004
    • LAN2D - Beyond Landscape? Catalogue with essays byJudith Tucker and Iain Biggs, Griselda Pollock, David Hill and Keith Patrick ISBN 1 900999 20 X
    • LAN2D “Bridges” Wild Conversations Press ISBN 1 902595 0 2001 Chronologues Catalogue with an introduction byDr. David Hill ISBN 1 902721 03 9
  • 1999
    • Migrations Through Time Catalogue with an introduction by Dr. U. Szulakowska ISBN 1 902721 01 2
  • 1997
    • Northern Light: The Ninth Provident Financial Triennial Art Exhibition ISBN 1 900123 10 X

Selected Exhibitions

  • 2006
    • Solo Exhibition 'In Search of a Hidden Landscape' Killhope, The North of England Lead Mining Museum, Weardale, County Durham.Exhibition resulting from
      research leave sabbatical co-sponsored by the AHRC and the School of Design,University of Leeds. (Publication ISBN 1 902721 14 4)
  • 2005
    • Solo Exhibition 'Contained Histories', The Hart Gallery, Islington, London
    • LAND2 Exhibition: 'Beyond Landscape', Royal West of England Academy, Bristol. (Catalogue: ISBN 1 902721 10 1)
  • 2004
    • LAN2D Inaugural Exhibition: 'Beyond Landscape – Contemporary Art and the Nature of Place', Dean Clough Galleries, Halifax Oct.2004 – Jan.2005
      (Catalogue: ISBN 1 900999 20 X)
    • Conference paper: 'Realities and Histories' (LAND2) - Art After 'Landscape'- Memory, Place and Identity, Dean Clough, Halifax November 2005
  • 2003
    • Solo Exhibition, Oriel Plas Glyn-Y-Weddw, Gwynedd.
    • 'Connections' Group Exhibition, S10 Gallery, Sheffield, subsequently to: Black Sheep Gallery, Flintshire (2004),Beldam Gallery, Brunel University (2004),
    • Oriel Plas Glyn-Y-Weddw, Gwynedd (2005), Lillie Gallery, Glasgow (2005)
    • 'Bridges' LAND2 Group Exhibition University of the West of England, Bristol (subsequently touring to Leeds University and Falmouth College of Art)
  • 2002
    • SOFA Chicago. International Exposition of Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art, Navy Pier, Chicago
    • The Secret World of Spar Boxes (invited contributor), Killhope Lead Mining Museum, County Durham
    • Group show in 'The Gallery on Cork Street', London
    • Hybrida 2002 Group exhibition of images utilising experimental printmaking processes.
    • Cartwright Hall and Yorkshire Design Centre, Bradford
    • Galerie Mladych, Brno, Czech Republic
    • Manchester University Gallery
    • University of the West of England, Bristol (in 2003)
  • 2001
    • Chronologues. Solo Exhibition, The Hart Gallery, London (Catalogue ISBN 1-902721-03-9)
  • 1999
    • Art Miami Catalogue: Migrations Through Time ISBN 1-902721-01-2
    • Works exhibited in Peter Bartlow Gallery, Chicago
  • 1997
    • Northern Light The 9th Provident Financial Triennial Exhibition, The Banqueting House,Whitehall, London. (Exhibition of invited artists) (Catalogue: ISBN 1 900123 10 X)
    • Solo Exhibition, The Hart Gallery, London
  • 1996
    • The Hart Gallery, Linby, Nottingham.
    • Art 96, Business Design Centre, London
  • 1995
    • The Hart Gallery, Linby, Nottingham
    • Geneva Art Fair, London Contemporary Art Fair
  • 1994
    • Solo Exhibition, The Hart Gallery, London
  • 1993
    • Solo Exhibition, The Hart Gallery, Linby, Nottingham
    • Chicago Art Fair,
    • Bath Contemporary Art Fair,
    • Manchester Art Fair,
    • London Contemporary Art Fair
  • 1992
    • Solo Exhibition, 'The Restructured Landscape', Lawrence Batley Centre, Bretton Hall.
    • Edinburgh Art Fair
    • A Century of Yorkshire Landscape, Manor House, Ilkley
  • 1991
    • Solo Exhibition, Yorkshire Television, Leeds
    • Images of the Yorkshire Landscape Touring Exhibition (Yorkshire Wildlife Trust) Catalogue: ISBN 0 9509460 1 X
  • 1990
    • From the North Gallery North, Cumbria
  • 1988
    • Solo Exhibition, Gallery North, Cumbria
  • 1987
    • Solo Exhibition, The Ruskin Gallery, Sheffield
  • 1986
    • Solo Exhibition, Quinton Green Fine Art, Cork Street, London
    • Laing Art Competition, Mall Galleries, London
    • The Bronze Age Moor Explored, Cartwright Hall, Bradford
  • 1984
    • TSWA National Open Art Exhibition Penzance, St Ives and touring
  • 1983
    • Recent Work, Marlborough Fine Art, London
    • Yorkshire Arts Touring Exhibition: Leeds, Sheffield, Barnsley, Washington (Tyne & Wear) and Wakefield
  • 1982
    • The Hayward Annual, Hayward Gallery, London
    • The Garden Exhibition, (prizewinner), Ellingham Mill, Suffolk
    • Sainsbury’s Images for Today Touring Exhibition
  • 1981
    • Thirteen British Artists, Marlborough Fine Art, London (Catalogue No.377)
    • Fragments Against Ruin, Arts Council Touring Exhibition (Catalogue ISBN 0 7287 0278 9)
  • 1980
    • Artist in Industry Exhibition, Arts Council Touring Exhibition
  • 1979
    • Solo Exhibition, University of Bradford
    • The British Art Show  touring Sheffield, Newcastle, Bristol
    • Arts Council Summer Exhibition 2 Selected Artists, Serpentine Gallery, London
  • 1976
    • Solo Exhibition, Sheffield Polytechnic School of Art & Design Gallery
  • 1975
    • Solo exhibition, Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield


David Walker Barker

e-mail: (home) (work)