Ruth Barker





RUTH BARKER lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland.

Barker is a Glasgow based artist who works with text and performance. Her practice uses a strange poetry to throw autobiographical sketches together with echoes of humanity’s oldest stories.

Reflecting theoretical ideas of connectivity and finitude, Barker works between written text and spoken word, often recounting her complex prose-poems from memory as live performances. Her practice, on first examination, foregrounds the artist's own daily experiences and the quotidian narratives of life as a mother-of-two in contemporary Scotland (nappies and pushchairs, shopping lists from Lidl, Hovis bread with cut crusts, stubbled legs and the TV news). However, the work is underpinned by the larger, longer stories of our own mortality, our sense of self, and our unconscious internalisation of ancient myth.

Barker’s performance poems are hypnotic, ritualised, events, often accompanied by lavish costume or unconventional locations. Her words are layered in structure and intensity, and use repetition, mnemonic, and moments of unexpected humour. Her exhibition practice uses installation, audio recordings, scripts, and sometimes chaotic assemblages to draw the essence of a performed work into a staged re-encounter with the artist’s voice.


Ruth Barker is represented by the Agency Gallery, London.




Year of Birth: 1979

Place of Birth: Leeds

Lives and Works: Glasgow 



2011 - 2017     Newcastle University - PhD in Fine Art Practice

2002 – 2004    Glasgow School of Art - MFA (Master of Fine Art)

1998 – 2001    Glasgow School of Art - BA Honours (1st Class with Distinction) in Fine Art, specialising in Environmental Art


Current Positions include:

Visiting Lecturer, Theatre Studies, Glasgow University.

Visiting Lecturer, Fine Art, Lancaster University.

Visiting Lecturer, leading an elective in Performance Studies, Glasgow School of Art.





Solo Presentations

2016     This Thing That We Do. Solo project for Akerman Daly, London.

2016     Place of Pillars. ATLAS Arts, with Edinburgh Arts Festival. Performance, audio release, publication.

2015     The White Ink Lecture. LICA, Lancaster. Performance.

2015     Circle Work. CCA Glasgow. Performance.

2013     A Love Song, For Gilgamesh. Camden Arts Centre, London. Performance.

2013     Of Gilgamesh, And Others. The Old Hairdressers' Glasgow. Performance.

2013     A Love Song, For Gilgamesh. Sils Projects, Rotterdam. Performance.

2012     Mouth Open In An Open O. Cornerhouse, Manchester. Performance. As part of 'Between' cur. Louise Adkins and International 3.

2012     To Sing Of Gilgamesh. Newcastle University. Performance.

2011     And The Three Mothers Ask, Don't You Know Me? Segedunum Museum, Wallsend. Performance.

2010     The Odysseus Fables. Intersections, Newcastle. Online commission.

2010     Low Metamorphosis. Centre for Interdisciplinary Artefact Studies. Leverhulme Residency.

2009     Orpheus and Eurydice. Stills, Edinburgh. As part of ArtLATE. Performance.

2009     In The Beginning. Easy Office, Glasgow. Artist initiated project. Performance.



Group Presentations

2016     'Strange Attractor' Group exhibition at the Agency, London. Featuring Man Ray, Ruth Barker, Sovay Berriman, Ulla von Brandenburg, Andrea Heller, Dominique Koch, Zilla Leutenegger, Loredana Sperrini. Opening 05/10 - 19/11/2016 @ the Agency galleries 1 & 2.

2016     A Beauty Centre. NAFA, Singapore. With Yeo Chee Kiong. Performance of 'The Space Beneath My Skin Is Closed To My Reason Today'. Plus screening of 'Circle Work' (2015).

2016     Fire the Canon, Glasgow School of Art. Performance of The White Ink Lecture.

2016     Hospitalfield House, Arbroath. Performance of The White Ink Lecture.

2015     Change and Interchange. Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster. Group exhibition.

2015     The Making. The Agency Gallery, London. Group exhibition.

2015     SOUTH OF NO NORTH. Siobhan Davies Dance Studios, London. Group exhibition plus live performance of 'What To Say When There Is Nothing To Say (no words no sense of the appropriate)'.

2015     Ripples on the Pond. The Old Hairdressers', Glasgow. Group screening event. Live performance of The White Ink Lecture.

2014     Palaces, Ballrooms, and Battling Betty McAllister. Glasgow Women's Library, Glasgow. Podcast commission (The Lives of Saints), with live performance of Thenew Awake. As part of Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Art.

2014     Openairies. The Hidden Gardens, Tramway. Group performance event cur. Laura Aldridge. As part of Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Art. Performance of '3 Offerings'.

2014     Remote Performances. Outlandia, Glen Nevis (broadcast on Resonance104.4fm). Performance commission for radio. Live performance of 'Genius Loci: Echo And Narcissus'.

2013     Curious Arts no 6. Hospitalfield House, Arbroath. Group performance event. Performance of 'The Library, The Body, And The World.'    

2013     Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-82): A Portrait In Fragments. Korean Cultural Centre, London. Group exhibition. Live performance of 'Demeter Song.'

2013     21 Revolutions, Two Decades of Changing Minds at Glasgow Womens’ Library. Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh. Group exhibition.

2013     Ruth Barker / Deepa Chudasama. The Agency Gallery, London. Two person exhibition with live performance of 'Mouth Open In An Open O.'

2013     The Agent RiA @ DOCVA. DOCVA, Milan. Group screening.

2012     21 Revolutions. Glasgow Women's Library, Glasgow, and Intermedia Gallery, Glasgow. Group exhibition.

2012     Song As Portrait. Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen, and St Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen. Group exhibition and performance event. Live performance of 'New Songs For The Three Mothers'.

2012     Word Of Mouth. Cartel, London. Exhibition and performance as part of curated programme by Rose Lejeune.

2012     Petrosphere. Skypark, Glasgow. Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art. Group exhibition with live performance of To Sing Of Gilgamesh.

2011     Song As Portrait. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh. Group performance event.

2011     Industrial Aesthetics. Hunter College Gallery, New York. Group exhibition.

2011     Portrait of Space. Clonlea, Dublin. Group residential event. Performance of 'And The Three Mothers Ask, Don't You Know Me?'

2011     Petrosphere. ReMap Festival Athens. Group exhibition. Performance of 'And The Three Mothers Ask, Don't You Know Me?'

2011     The Erratics. Glasgow School of Art. Group exhibition. Performance of 'And The Three Mothers Ask, Don't You Know Me?'

2010     I Was Uranium. Sils Gallery, Rotterdam. Group exhibition.

2010     How We Can Open The Lotus. Machon Hamayim, Givaataim, Israel. Two person exhibition, with live performance of 'I Am Odysseus'

2010     (Sym-po-zeum). Mitchell Library, Glasgow International Festival. Group performance event.

2010     In 12 Acts. Glasgow Project Room, Glasgow. Group performance event.

2010     Rough Mix. Dance Base, Edinburgh. Group residential project.

2009     Ruth Barker / Catherine Street. Lady Gaby's Wonderbar, Berlin. Two person performance event. Live performance of 'The Deer Woman'.

2009     Temporary Nature. Pacific Quay, Glasgow. Site specific group project. Live performance of 'The Deer Woman.'

2009     ArtLATE. Stills Edinburgh. Performance.

2008     Art-Site-Audience. Tramway, Glasgow. Symposium event. Performance of 'Octagon Upon Octagon'.

2008     Salem. Castlefield Gallery, Manchester. Group exhibition.

2008     There is no invisible disguise that lasts all day. A. Vermin, Glasgow. Group exhibition.


Permanent Public Commissions          

2014     Point Your Toes To The Ground. Alexander Pringle HIV Unit, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust.

2008     The Choir Loft. Blackpool Cenotaph. Memorial to non-combatants killed in conflict (grade II listed).

2007     The Shores of the Familiar. Cowcaddens Pedestrian Underpass, Glasgow.

2005     Placed Upon The Horizon. (Collaboration with Niall Macdonald) South Lanarkshire Council.

2004     Bromeliad. Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Glasgow. Memorial to HRH Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.