NOELLE BARNETT

Noelle's main inspiration is skin, in its literal, human sense, and a far broader, abstract way. She recalls that she read so much about it during her MA research, that she became quite obsessive, finding herself following one particular person around her local supermarket, trying to photograph the large blemish on their leg.

Surrounded by images and text that continually impress upon us the need to remain youthful, slim, firm and nubile, the pressures on women (and men) today are immense. Ageing brings with it an awareness of our tenuous hold on life and looks, and an ever-present pressure to remain young and desirable.
Visual and textual records formed the basis of her MA research, questioning people’s attitudes to their own, and others, skin. From the liminal passages of Lacan to our interaction with the world through its’ touch, skin is intriguing, mystifying, and sensual. We all have skin, and it mostly remains hidden from view, even a naked body cannot be seen as a whole. The concept of skin as a two-way membrane is really important to her methodology, being our interface with the world. We experience so much through touch, and skin memory intrigues her, wondering how far we can remove our touch yet still feel the surface we were touching-like the meniscus on water. The fact we continually shed our skin, making up 90% of house dust, means it is in the air we breathe, so the whole world can be understood as being of skin.

Her work has moved away from representation, into an abstract and ambiguous depiction. It is quieter and more reflective, offering a glimpse of the ephemeral. Her research has continued into Dust, a fascinating and intriguing miniature world, which surrounds us all. At an exploratory stage, this is taking the form of practical and academic research, and painting in response.

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