Kate Barry is a visual artist living in Ireland since 1991 and she returned to full time education in 2017, studying ceramics and fine art. Originally from Suffolk in England, her work draws upon childhood memories of storytelling. She is particularly interested in exploring aspects of children’s literature through different media, such as painting, drawing, print and expanded animation. Her recent works have focused on aspects of play and the simplicity of childhood imagination. She has participated in group shows such as Afterthought at the United Arts Club (2019), and Propositions on the IADT campus (2022).
My practice explores the imagination of children and personal childhood memories of storytelling. Children’s literature is an important influence on my work, as it is my future goal to write and illustrate for children. I’m particularly interested in exploring classical children’s literature, fairy-tales and poetry. My recent works have focused on aspects of play and the simplicity of childhood imagination. My work responds to developments in the culture of childhood, such as the increased use of technologies that can become addictive for some children, such as computer games, and can hinder other forms of play, free movement and imagination. I use life drawing, photography and conversations with the children in my family to inform my approach, which focuses on capturing playful moments that are central to the final compositions in my work. I use a range of traditional and new media, including oil painting, egg tempera, drawing and print, and more recently expanded animation.
My Thesis explores the figure of Alice from the Alice in Wonderland books 1865 – 1871, I examine how the main character ‘Alice’ has been sexualised through time, and how the books have been reimagined through different mediums.
The relationship between ‘Lewis Carroll’ and his muse ‘Alice Liddell’ has led to speculation on the nature of the relationship between man and child, corrupting the original intentions of a curious and intelligent child, into an erotic, mentally unstable figure. Ongoing analysis of Lewis Carroll’s persona has altered the fundamental innocence of the Alice Books placing the Alice figure vulnerable to exploitation. This is demonstrated in modern and contemporary art image and other relevant areas. Victorian culture and norms influenced the writings of Lewis Carroll leading to speculation concerning his persona and his relationship with child Alice Liddell. The adult themes, undertones, desire to shock and the exploitation of the Alice figure within art image and other areas show a seven-year-old girl transformed into an erotic femme-enfant through different media. The Alice books and Alice figure have also been used for other inspirational subjects and interests in a positive manner, but I focus on the more common treatment of Alice the figure, issues and concerns. I examine how Alice is portrayed as the adult but is nevertheless, always the child forever captured in the Alice Books. Adult representation of the child character is uncomfortable however disguised within art image and text; I explore how this representation is problematic.