Val Barry   (British 1937-2018)

Val Barry was born into a Barnsley mining family. At the age of 29, she left nursing and moved to Crouch End in London with her husband, and a passion for studio pottery was realised. Recognition came in 1971 with a solo exhibition in Gallery 273, Queen Mary’s College. Throughout the 1970s and 80s her work was well received and taken into collections by a number of major museums including the Victoria & Albert. In addition she was awarded a Gold Medal in the 1975 Florence International Ceramics Competition. As well as solo exhibitions, she exhibited in Hong Kong with Bernard, David and Janet Leach, Katherine Playdell-Bouverie, Michael Cardew, Colin Pearson, Henry Hammond and John Maltby amongst others. The greatest influence on Val Barry’s work was a Craftsman Potters Association sponsored trip to China in 1978 where she drew inspiration from the Oriental aesthetic. An exhibition of Chinese jades inspired sword-form narrow pieces with dynamically cut rims and a blade-like appearance that looked as if they had received a precision strike from steel. From this came a series of flattened geometric forms, often with a discrete curve, primarily in muted colours, sparse brushwork or wax resist decoration. Produced in varying sizes and forms they were intended to be seen in groups, the spaces between them being equally important as the objects themselves.

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