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In The Open | Barbara Howey & Ann Fisher-Wirth

Barbara Howey is an artist based in East Anglia in the UK. She gained an MA (1992) in Feminism in the Visual Arts at Leeds University and a PhD (2001) in Creative Practice Research from Norwich School of Art and Design.  Her current work centers on contemporary painting within differing projects. In 2017 she guest edited volume: 3-1/ 3-2 of The Journal of Contemporary Painting, a double issue exploring the idea of Commitment in Painting, published by Intellect. She has also recently curated an exhibition focusing on contemporary figurative women painters called Real Lives - Painted Pictures. (2016-2017) and an exhibition with events in Norwich called Rise Up! featuring the protest paintings of the artist David Mabb (2017).  She was selected for the John Moores Painting Prize in 2014 and is currently exhibiting in a 4 Museum tour of China as part of the Contemporary British Painting Group (2017) and a national touring exhibition called Edgelands (2016-2017) More at

Ann Fisher-Wirth’s fourth book of poems is Dream Cabinet (Wings Press 2012). With Laura-Gray Street, she coedited the groundbreaking Ecopoetry Anthology (Trinity UP 2013). Ann’s collaborative manuscript Mississippi with the photographer Maude Schuyler Clay will appear from Wings Press in 2018. Her other books of poems are Carta Marina, Five Terraces, and Blue Window; she is also the author of four poetry chapbooks. Her poems appear widely and have received numerous awards. In April 2017 she was the Anne Spencer Poet in Residence at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She has received Fulbrights to Switzerland and Sweden, and has had residencies at The Mesa Refuge; Djerassi Resident Artists Program; Hedgebrook; and CAMAC/Centre d’Art, Marnay, France. A Fellow of the Black Earth Institute, she teaches and directs the Environmental Studies program at the University of Mississippi.

Damage Poison Beauty Ooze

Ann Fisher-Wirth and Barbara Howey
Letterpress broadsides of poems and paintings
September 2017

The collaboration between Ann Fisher-Wirth and Barbara Howey has taken place in cyberspace, when Ann began to send Barbara poems from Mississippi, in the American South, and Barbara began to send Ann photos of paintings from Norfolk, England. Coming from different countries and practicing different forms of art, they conversed through email and through poetry and painting, and brought about a new body of work exploring distressed, toxic landscapes. There are common threads in the six poems and six paintings they created, but also differences. Ann’s poems are situated in a place where she has lived for nearly thirty years, while Barbara’s paintings come from a range of sources, including personal observation and images gained from the internet. The dialogue between them is the common thread, their awareness of the politics and greed that have led to the gross misuse and devastation of natural resources, not just in their own parts of the world, but everywhere—and yet, too, their awareness of the ways in which vividness and beauty endure.