Jo Barker has worked as a tapestry artist with her own studio since leaving Edinburgh College of Art in 1986, where she studied tapestry and printmaking
Her work reflects a long-term interest in colour and its visual and emotional impact on the viewer. The images create illusions of space, depth of field or movement and, in abstract terms, reflect her interest in plants.
She explains "Initially I work on small designs, which combine a gestural use of drawing, painting and collage. These become the guidelines for translation into woven tapestries. I aim to recreate and capture the immediacy of these marks. The medium of tapestry has a unique presence and sensuality. It lends itself to the use of intense colour whilst also providing a richness of surface texture.
"In 2006 I won two funding awards, one from the Theo Moorman Trust for Weavers and the other from the Scottish Arts Council. I wanted to explore ways of incorporating the computer and digital photography into my designing: to use it as an additional tool alongside printing, painting and effectively, as a digital sketchbook. I also wanted to make a research study trip to Cairo to visit the Wissa Wassef Tapestry Weaving Art School and to see the tapestries in the Coptic Museum. I am interested in exploring ways of incorporating stylised plant like marks in the weaving. I have been working on small samples aiming to find a damask-like visible/invisible quality. I hope to use this as a subtle contrast to other more vibrant elements within the composition of the tapestry.
"The piece Dappled Circle Scarlet, woven for Collect 2007, uses a quality of light that fascinated me on my study trip. The way the light is filtered through the fretwork screens in buildings. It also has the circle motif that I have been working with for many years, but this time as a more solid form as a base for the dappled light pattern. The grey ripples act as a softer, subtler sense of movement within the composition."
Numerous public bodies including the Scottish Executive, the House of Lords, Bank of China and Guinness PLC have commissioned her work. She is represented in the UK by The Scottish Gallery and in USA by the textile gallery browngrotta arts.