Bau-Xi photographer, Barbara Cole recently developed a suite of videos exploring each of her series. Click the videos below to watch more:
Underworld consists of prints that are archival pigment-based inks on watercolour paper, 40x60 inch light boxes and a short video exploring the experience through uniquely different mediums.
"Her dramatic underwater images, often taken in her own pool, have a timeless painterly touch and look deceivingly effortless.”
White Noise is a collection of 10 Still images and 10 Lenticular images, all approximately 30 x 40 inches, which have been taken underwater. Here, the immersion experiences required in my earlier works (Underworld) are now combined with an attempt to extrapolate from the watery matrix in which they begin, a physical expression of the experience of selfhood. The White Noise works attempt to show us simultaneously the inside and the outside of the human act and its possible meanings.
“The underwater photographs of rising, shimmering figures against the enigmatic backdrop of the ocean are much like many of her other works: fantastical and elegant.”
- Creative Boom
Figure transformation has always been a predominant theme in my work, and over the last twenty years my practice has likewise centered on water as a transformative medium. While I, of course, use traditional photographic tools, I view myself operating more as a painter. My paint brushes become the figures moving weightless in the water, through the frame, their speed determining their level of clarity.
When I was working on the Chromatic series, I found myself moving in a very different and exciting direction. I wanted to connect back in history, to use water to reinterpret the meaning of the Colour Field work epitomized by such great painters as Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Lewis, Barnett Newman, and so many others. It was important to challenge the seemingly obvious assumption that water always needs to be blue.
“Cole is sluicing reality to find its most precious materials, hoping to slow us down and run our fingers along its subtleties and impressions.”
- Whitehot Magazine
With Duplicity, Cole’s fifth underwater series, Barbara brings an element of reflection to her work, transforming the strange into otherworldly beauty.
"[Cole] is changing the way water is used in photography to create images that can easily be mistaken for paintings and that push the boundaries of reality.
- CNN Style
FALLING THROUGH TIME
Falling Through Time is a complex arrangement of past and present, one that draws on personal and collective history, myth, and the porous nature of time in the distinct, contemporary style for which the artist has become known. Cole’s project began 20 years ago, when, while traveling, the artist became enamored with the incomparable gardens of England. She was inspired by their romantic ambience: whimsical lattices, wiry brambles, and lush roses, all overseen by classically inspired statues, impossibly weightless despite their stone medium.
“Like Venus rising from her birth, Cole’s subjects embrace beauty, femininity, and identity while floating on the ocean surface.”
This series, fueled by personal history in many ways, is an ode to the power of will and strength to overcome. The art in Cole’s Surfacing exhibition not only opens up a dialogue on mental health, but also helps to make those who are suffering silently aware that there are resources accessible to them. Cole is working with the organizations Bell Let’s Talk and the Campaign to Change Direction to further their initiatives in spreading awareness and de-stigmatizing mental health issues, as well as highlighting the accessibility of getting help by providing mental health resources for those in need. Cole has also been working closely for years with Swim Drink Fish, a prominent Canadian water conservation organization dedicated to protecting and ensuring the safety of recreational water sources in communities across the country. Their other initiatives including the Swim Guide and the Watermark Project focus on safeguarding local bodies of water so future generations can enjoy them.“My work not only echoes my own struggles and personal and artistic achievements, it speaks to all women who rise up, take back power and lead the way.”