Folly (stone carpet)
19 June 2017 - 30 January 2023
In this site-specific floor painting, Andrew Barber reclaims the floor as a legitimate site for contemporary art. Folly (stone carpet) taps into an historic vein of decorative approaches to flooring and pavements, pushing against the kind contemporary desire for functionality and durability that has rendered the floor a dull and institutionalised element of the modern built environment.
Barber's art practice spans a diverse set of enquiries, connected by his interest in 'how paint can evoke sublime sensations through the observation of everyday, often banal situations'. His work looks to the full spectrum of painting conventions, from art history through to the work of domestic and commercial tradesperson-painters. Interested in labour hierarchies of creative production, Barber uses this latest floor-based work, Folly (stone carpet), to explore the formal potential of the type of ad-hoc design solutions that arise outside of a conventional art context; collapsing the typically distinct roles between 'tradesperson' and 'artist'.
Folly (stone carpet) takes a starting point from a Roman paving technique, in which broken and discarded bricks from construction sites were redeployed as flooring tiles. Barber's composition takes this ancient and intuitive design process as a subject, exploring how the casual juxtaposition of forms across the floor can reactivate a mundane space into something bristling with energy and visual richness.