Think, if you will, of porcelain. You’re probably picturing your nan’s mantlepiece, creaking under the weight of those disgusting clowns you’re hoping to duck come will reading time. You’re probably not picturing hooded youths beating a man to death, Snow White looking on shyly at Bashful’s hard on, or Humpty Dumpty getting his brains scrambled by the riot police. But then you’re probably not experimental porcelain artist Barnaby Barford (if you are then sorry)
Since graduating from the Royal College of Art back in 2002, Barford has been modifying a mixture of new and antique porcelain to create sculptures that make us reassess the nature of commemorative figurines. In his hands, a 19th century peasant boy becomes a 20th century teenage thug in a hoodie, and rustic maidens dancing on a bed of roses start brandishing guns.
Porcelain is no longer saved for best, but becomes an everyday tool in the artist’s cannon, something that can help them make a political or social point, or simply tell a tell of unrequited love. His 2008 series of works, which was filmed by Channel 4 for a short film, was entitled ‘Damaged Goods’. In it two porcelain figures, divided by class and separated by a shelf, try to find love in a bric-a brac store. Bless.