‘Babs’. Barbara Walker

I had seen Barbara drawing John Akomfra in the Round Room of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. She was fully focussed on making the drawing which I wanted to capture in a photograph and ultimately in drawing and print. Following developing the portrait we met at ‘A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings’ at the Oxford Modern Art Gallery where she was exhibiting three ‘embossed drawings’. While we were talking in the gallery a photographer approached to take her picture and she recoiled – ‘No’. I was even more worried about how she may respond to my portrait of her, which I was intending to inform her of, if the opportunity arose.
I did tell her and invited her to the school of Art to see and receive the first edition should she approve.

With some trepidation I welcomed Barbara to the School where she also studied, and upstairs to the print room to see her portrait in its material reality.

Babs. RBSA Gallery. 2019. silkscreen. A1

‘I like it’, no I really do. Its so big. I love the marks and attention to the hair, hands my earring. It also shows respect for me as an artist.

I said I wanted to focus on hair head, eyes and hands and the drawing concentration between eye, pencil in hand to her sketchbook. What shall we title it? Barbara, Barbra draws?

“My close friends call me ‘Babs’ so I’d like that please. I happily numbered, signed, stamped and titled the portrait ‘Babs’ and presented it to her.”

Barbara: “I will get it properly framed.
My daughter will be after it”.

Barbara approves and touches her portrait

We made a cardboard folder with a string handle for Barbara to carry it flat. Later
Barbara messaged me her approval.

“Dear Jonnie

Thank you  for  the great artwork. Very
happy and  honoured to accept your  gift!

p.s I saw your work at Ort Gallery  opening!
Great work too!”

I replied:

‘Great to see you. I’m so glad you like your portrait. It means a lot to me that you do and want to keep and frame it.  

The marks round the edge are the result of rubbing carbon dust into the drawing film and the attached Instagram is from when I bought it and you replied ‘WOW’ Maybe I remembered that when I was drawing your portrait.

I hope your daughter(s) enjoy it with you and see their mother’s total focus on her art making.’

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