With a long career as a curator, Sydney artist Glenn Barkley brings with him an extensive knowledge of art history and a specific interest in those outside and overlooked by the art historical canon. His choice of ceramics as his preferred medium speaks to this investment in the dismissed and downgraded. In his ambitious installation Temple of the Worm (2016) Barkley pays homage to the seventeenth-century Danish physician and collector Ole Worm, whose ‘Wunderkammer’, named Museum Wormianum, encompassed an extraordinary array of objects – from a puffer fish suspended from the ceiling to ethnic artillery. Barkley’s tribute to Worm can be found in his decision to craft his own space – his own room of wonders – populated by ceramics with worm-like or vermicular surfaces. In the words of catalogue essayist Ted Snell, ‘ordering information, linking ideas, arranging objects and images, creating new relationships, all these elements are at the core of the creative process, and all are used to impart a message or to engage the viewer in pondering our relationship to objects and their potential to shape our lives’.
Glenn Barkley’s work will be on display in Gallery 22 at the Art Gallery of South Australia during Magic Object.