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Item Name: Painting
Title: Untitled
Maker: Sidney Barker
Year: 1953
Country: Canadian
Materials: watercolour on paper
Measurements: overall: 26.5 cm x 38 cm
ID Number: PC83.1.2
Legal Status: PERMANENT COLLECTION


Extended Label Info: Sydney Barker was a self-taught artist who primarily painted in watercolour. His subject matter was landscape: trees, rocks and rivers, birds and animals. In the mid-20th Century his work became well-known through an interest in artists not academically trained, known then as Primitive, Naïve, Provincial or Folk artists. At that time, as federal nationalism was rising, art curators and cultural agencies sought to identify and support a vernacular Canadian culture. Although some of this research and funding for “authentically Canadian” cultural production was deeply flawed (as it often did not include work by Indigenous people, and dismissed several forms of artwork as craft), exhibitions of folk art provided inspiration for those who were not interested in working in International Modernism, such as the artists of the Regina Clay movement. With the rise of Post-modernism, cultural pluralism, which allowed for more diversity in the arts, has become more accepted. Sydney Herbert Barker (also Sidney Barker, or Sydney H. Barker) (1893 – 1970) Born in Brandon, Manitoba, Barker grew up in Oxbow, Saskatchewan. During WWI, Barker served with the 78th Battalion of the Winnipeg Grenadiers (1915-1920). Returning to Saskatchewan, Barker worked with his father as a decorator in Cutknife. Though not formally trained as a painter, Barker created stage scenery in Oxbow, and developed a studio practice in landscape painting. During WW II, Barker joined the Veterans' Guard of Canada. After the war, he lived in Saskatoon and worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs until retirement in 1965. In 1959, Norah McCullough of the National Gallery of Canada curated Barker’s paintings into an influential, internationally toured exhibition, “Folk Painters of the Canadian West”, with the work of Eugene W. Dahlstrom, Roland Keevil, William Panko, W.N. Stewart, and Jan G. Wyers. Barker's work is collected in private and public collections such as the Saskatchewan Arts Board, and in the National Gallery of Canada.