Glenys Barton is a sculptor working mainly in ceramic and bronze. She was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1944, trained at Royal College of art 1968-71 and her work has been collected and exhibited widely, in Britain and abroad. She lives and works in Essex, UK.
Barton was one of the few British sculptors working mainly in ceramic in the 70s. Her precise geometrical forms made her work highly distinctive. She gained quick success after graduating and was the British prize winner at the International Ceramics Exhibition, 1972. She was invited to serve on the newly formed Crafts Advisory Committee, as its youngest member.
At this early stage in her career, Angela Flowers offered Barton her first solo exhibition in London. This resulted in a career-long partnership with (what is now) Flowers Gallery and Barton has presented regular solo exhibitions with them since 1974.
Two early works are included in the new Ceramics Galleries (2009) at the Victoria & Albert Museum. These works illustrate her distinctive early fanatical concern for precision and interest in the use of industrial processes of ceramic production. These preoccupations lead naturally to an invitation to collaborate with Wedgwood. As artist-in-residence 1976-78 she worked with the Wedgwood Factory, Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent to produce 26 sculptures.
Since the 1980s her work has centered on the human form, the head in particular. She is best known for her ceramic portrait sculptures and became widely recognised in 1993 when her ‘Jean Muir’ was shown in the 'Portrait Now' exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The Jean Muir sculpture was used as the lead publicity image for the exhibition, featuring on all exhibition publications and posters throughout the London Underground. The NPG subsequently added a Jean Muir figure to their collection and commissioned a sculpture of Glenda Jackson. Barton's Helena Kennedy and a head of Jean Muir are in the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
A monograph on her work, 'Glenys Barton', was published by Momentum in 1997, with a foreword by Charles Saumarez Smith, introduction by Robert Heller and essays by Edward Lucie-Smith and Robin Gibson.
She has many sculptures in collections internationally and her work has been exhibited widely in Britain and abroad. Two simultaneous retrospective exhibitions in 1997 examined separate aspects of her work - portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery and her generic figurative work at Manchester Art Gallery. These two shows came together the following year, 1998, at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, her home town.
In 2004 she worked with Roger Michell and Kevin Loader on the making of the film ‘Enduring Love’ and became the inspiration for the sculptor played by Samantha Morton. All the sculpture in the film is by Glenys Barton including specially commissioned portraits of Daniel Craig and Bill Nighy.
An early Laban dance training and an interest in modern dance continues to inform her work and in 2005 resulted in a public art commission for Hextable Dance. The work was inspired by the forms and movement of dancers Antonia Grove and Theo Clinkard (Hextable Dance's first resident artists) as they worked with choreographer Rafael Bonachela.
Glenys Barton describes her work:
‘My subject is always humanity: sometimes a specific human, sometimes human relationships, sometimes human society. The forms may be heads, parts of figures, whole figures or figures within figures. Heads and hands particularly fascinate me. As I work I feel that I am directly linked with those who have tried to fashion the human form from the earliest times. My greatest achievement would be to create a timeless image.’ Glenys Barton 2011