Wednesday, 15 Apr, 2009 Offbeat

Artist Uses Porcelain Figures to Illustrate Modern Youth


The British artist Barnaby Barford is able to turn porcelain figures into intriguing and even shocking works of art.

For example, his new collection includes British chavs that eat fast food and participate in "happy slappings".

Using just mobile phones and hoodies the artist transforms the porcelain, which he purchases from junk shops, paying just a few pounds, into different models, each having the price of GBP8,000 (almost $12,000).

Currently his collection, called "The Good, The Bad, The Belle", features a family that mocks buckets of KFC, a hooded boy that sprays graffiti on a wall, a boy who wolfs down a McDonald's burger and several 'hoodies' that cause chaos in a park, reports The Daily Mail.

One of his probably most shocking works the artists entitled "Do it again, I didn't press record", which shows children "happy slapping" their powerless victim. In the scene a boy puts the boot in a figure curled up on the ground while his companion films everything on his mobile phone camera.

According to the 31-year-old Barnaby Barford, the works in his collection were developed to represent today's youth and how it is usually seen by the older generation.

The artists said: "It's been interesting to see different people's reactions to the models. Some people think they're horrific and others think they're funny. I think people are shocked because the models catch them off guard - they're seeing these usually traditional, pretty porcelain models in a totally new context."

He acquires the original porcelain models from car-boot sales as well as from charity shops. Then Mr. Barford dismantles them and starts transforming the "naive" image of childhood into more humorous and contemporary image of today's kids, equipping his figures with modern attributes like mobile phones and fast-food meals, which he thoroughly makes.

In order to create a scene from porcelain figures, the artist needs around 3 months. He mentions that the figures were not created to criticize modern youth, instead he illustrates how today's youth is perceived.

"I wasn't trying to get a particular reaction to the collection - these models have different levels, there are different ways of looking at them. If you want to have a laugh and just enjoy them visually that's great but there is also the opportunity to extract a deeper meaning," says Mr. Barford, whose collection can be seen at the Spring Projects gallery in London.

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