Anna Barriball's first major survey exhibition, at MK Gallery, brings together drawing, video, photography and sculpture made over the last decade. Barriball's early work often involves transforming ordinary items: 'Bag drawing', 2000, a disposable, white plastic bag is completely covered with red marker pen to create a glowing, concentrated object, while 'Money drawing', 2000, a five pound note coated in gold ink, accentuates the creases made from daily handling. Barriball also records her surroundings at home or in the studio, by making an impression of floorboards, brickwork, windows and doors by meticulously tracing their surfaces with pencil on paper. Hovering between photography, drawing and sculpture, this process enables the artist to document sections of the world, while magnifying the incidental details, revealing textures created by gradual, everyday wear and tear.
At the same time, Barriball's work often evolves from spontaneous, if not accidental, discoveries, channelling natural forces with little or no physical contact. Large drawings become substantial sculptures as paper is allowed to curl during the drawing process and a video, titled 'Draw (fireplace)', 2005, records a sheet of tracing paper sucked in and out of a fireplace by a draught, as if a building is breathing.
A series of works is created by blowing bubble mixture with ink over old black and white family photographs found in a market; a new image is created as each bubble bursts, echoing the shutter of a camera. A sequence of nocturnal flash photos of windows, looped on a monitor, provide momentary glimpses of the artist's presence in reflection while a large, framed, blown up detail from a found photograph shows mysterious and ambiguous figures staring out through a mottled window. This patina recurs in another enlarged photograph, this time placed on the floor, as a pathway leads sharply into the undergrowth, opening up a potent space for the imagination. Both claustrophobic and evocative, a new work, 'Barrier', 2011, covers an entire wall; the familiar translucent colours of windbreaks are dulled by black marker pen whose saturation alters as old pens run dry and are replaced by fresh ones.
Whether capturing specific instances or conjuring hazy memories, Barriball's work combines intense, concentrated moments with slight, playful gestures, highlighting the fleeting moments and discreet surroundings that witness our passage through time and space.