Barbara Howey

Poison Idyll, 2017. Watercolour and Oil on board, 25x20cm.


This recent body of work are small scale paintings. They explore toxic landscapes. Howey uses a range of sources for her work from personal observation made during walks, photographs and the internet. Some preliminary research revealed that toxic water can be of a variety of intense colours. The more lurid are from illegal dye dumping, oil spills, runoff from textile, shoe and paper mills, chrlorine-disinifection and flooding of nickel mines. This intensity of colour forms the basis for these works.

The paintings are made in several stages, firstly watercolour is laid on a gessoed board using photographic imagery as a starting point. The surface is then disturbed through the addition of excessive water which distorts the image and drips and spills off the surface like pollution run off. When dry, oil colour is added and then again manipulated with white spirit. The final stage involves oil glazes of various densities which heighten the colour. The process and materials used are part of the meaning of the work. The disruption of the paintings surface through spills and floods of various media have evolved together with the themes of damaged landscapes/waterscapes. 



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. In 2017 she guest edited volume: 3-1/ 3-2 of The Journal of Contemporary Painting, exploring the idea of Commitment in Painting, (Intellect). In September 2017, she collaborated with the poet Ann Fisher-Wirth as part of the ASLE UKI conference and IN THE OPEN Exhibition at Sheffield University. In 2018 she will be artist in residence for 3 months at Nordisk Kunstnarsenter in Dale, Norway.


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