© 2018 by Irene Barberis. Site created by Heidi Vanzet

Irene Barberis Short Biography 


Yielding, pliable, embroidered, draped, stretched, leaning, hanging, drooping. Irene
Barberis’ pink plastic sculptures rejoice in the minimal and conceptual art of the mid twentieth
century, in particular that of Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt, while taking us on a
spiritual high towards synthetic consumerism. Interested in spatial compositions and the
sculptural possibilities of objects, Barberis has made installations in her studio since 1976;
carefully configuring still life arrangements to explore form and composition in the third
dimension. Nowadays, she deploys plastic as her preferred medium with its sheen,
transparency and luminosity, just some of the qualities of this everyday, technological
material.i


Irene Barberis works across mediums, negotiating explorations of processes and faith
through abstraction and figuration. Her PhD at the millennial crossover investigated the
abstract and figurative elements of the Apocalypse and it’s representations. This research
and work has now resulted in the spectacular international project ‘The Tapestry of Light:
Intersections of Illumination’. It was exhibited in 2017 at the Brussels Cathedral and
Canterbury Cathedral, and opens in July 2019 at the new Museum of the Bible in
Washington DC. The Tapestry of Light project was twenty years in development and
making, and is - as it’s international Curator, Emerita Professor Michelle. P. Brown from
London University says - ‘is one of the only known full ‘Apocalypse cycles’ by a female
artist’.
Collaborating with scientist Professor David Mainwaring, inventor of a new Nano particle
phosphorescent pigment, which became part of the fabric in the weaving of the Tapestry of
Light, Barberis integrated this new material into the weaving and design process of the
project. The tapestry was woven in Flanders at the same workshops where major artists such
as Damien Hirst, Gerhard Richter and Grayson Perry have their tapestries manufactured; the
Flanders workshop affirmed that this was the first tapestry they had woven which had its
own light source. The Art, the Science, the process of making, digitizing and producing an
international project of this scale (36mts x 3.2mts) was complex and challenging. Barberis
had the vision to raise the funds, to work with a variety of technical experts to solve these
problems and see the project through to completion. The Museum of the Bible will exhibit
the work for a year with the intention of travelling it further.
Barberis not only works across mediums but across fields of knowledge and practice.


‘My work is female work. It’s comes from female sensibilities. What I’ve hoped to do with my
work, however long I’ve been practicing, is to keep it open-ended, to keep the ideas moving. I
feel I haven’t been moved by fashions nor shifted from the ground I started with. The
manifestations of those multiple lines of thinking will hopefully be fully ‘present’ and this will
be, and is my female statement.”
ii


Dedicated to extending the status and recognition of drawing, Barberis set up the Global
Centre for Drawing in 2010. She has created through ‘drawing’ a wide range of platforms
and ‘safe places’ for ‘dialogue’ for artists throughout the world, in countries such as Tibet,
China, Bahrain, Dubai, and in Europe. She has also opened up opportunities for many
Australian artists to gain international exposure, and international artists to achieve exposure
within Australia. Through projects such as the Crossing the Line; Drawing in the Middle
East series of conferences and exhibitions, she has drawn diverse artists together for
collaboration and discourse.
For the past seven years she has, with her colleague and fellow artist Wilma Tabacco,
initiated and Co Directed the Melbourne Gallery, Langford120, creating a gallery model
which is commercial, however is experimental and successful in all aspects.
She has contributed significantly to arts education through her academic work in various
Australian and international Universities, most recently at RMIT University. She has worked
in research, painting and drawing and with national and overseas postgraduate supervisions
at PhD level and participated in RMIT’s offshore program in Hong Kong since 1999.
Barberis is the Founding Director of Metasenta®, an umbrella organization which enables
her to work across multiple projects, including Langford120 and the Global Centre for
Drawing. She raised funding and commissioned through Metasenta®, Contemporary
Australian Drawing#1, authored by Janet Mckenzie and Christopher Heathcote, one of the
most comprehensive publications of drawing in Australia to date. She set up Metasenta
Publishing to publish small books on artist’s ideas, and works from the studio.
Barberis is a committed artist with an extensive and diverse exhibiting history both in
Australia and internationally.

 i. Natalie King,  Faithfully Female: The New Work of Irene Barberis, Intersections Catalogue, Australian Jewish Museum

 ii. Interview    with the Artist and Janet McKenzie, Studio International Review, 2012