Venture Arts artist included in British Ceramics Biennial’s headline exhibition


British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) – the UK’s largest contemporary ceramics festival – has selected Manchester artist Barry Finan for its headline exhibition AWARD 2019, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this September in Stoke-on-Trent.

Text based sculpture

Barry Anthony Finan, detail of work in progress. Photo: Martin Livesey

From September 7th – October 13th Finan will be exhibiting amongst ten of the UK’s most talented ceramicists with a chance to win the £10,000 prize for excellence, innovation and creative ambition. Set in the magnificent China Hall on the former Spode Factory site, this opportunity will see Finan undertake his most ambitious project to date.

Barry Finan has been practising for over ten years at Manchester’s Venture Arts, which supports learning disabled artists to develop and showcase new art.

Finan’s art defies categorisation. He has an eye for producing bold, text-based visual art and his work straddles writing, painting, ceramics, banner-making and performance. With the support of an Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant and ceramic artist Caroline Tattersall, Finan will create a large-scale site-specific ceramic installation.

Just under six hundred unfired bricks will form a malleable wall, a giant platform for the artist to broadcast personal messages, ambitions and life goals through live inscriptions, or ‘WRRIGHHTINNGSERRSS’, in which he uses repetitive letters to elongate his declarations of personal identity. This artwork will evolve throughout the festival, as his perspective on life and his hopes and dreams are etched into the impermanence of unfired clay.

Since 2014, Finan has been exhibiting his work nationally and has achieved critical acclaim. This year Venture Arts celebrated the acquisition of his piece YES I WANNT TO DO TRRICKSSERRS (2016) by the Whitworth Art Gallery for their Contemporary Fine Art Collection, with support from Nerys Johnson Contemporary Art Fund and the Friends of the Whitworth. This work is currently on show in their Exchanges Gallery and paired with Tracey Emin’s, MEOW, on display until 2020.

Past exhibitions include Charlie Smith Gallery, London, which saw Finan exhibit a collaborative installation with artist Rosanne Robertson in the company of Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger and nominee Fiona Banner; Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; The Manchester Contemporary art fair; The Lowry, Salford Quays and national touring exhibition Radial Craft: Alternative Ways of Making with Craftspace and Outside In.

These achievements become more significant when considering the barriers to learning disabled artists in the mainstream art world: they lack the traditional routes through arts education and are routinely kept on the margins, with many never having the opportunity to reach their creative potential.

Amanda Sutton, Director of Venture Arts said:

“Venture Arts is delighted to be able to support Barry in this brilliant project. As an organisation that strives to promote and profile the work of learning disabled artists, this represents quite an achievement for us but most of all for Barry. He is an astounding talent and we are immensely grateful to all at BCB for recognising and supporting his application and ongoing success.”

Barney Hare Duke, Artistic Director of the British Ceramics Biennial said:

“We’re pleased that Barry has been selected as one of the shortlisted artists for the BCB 2019 AWARD exhibition. Barry’s proposal which was put forward in association with Venture Arts represents an ambition to generate work on a scale that impresses but which equally offers potential to expand public understanding and appreciation of the vitality of what contemporary artists are doing with clay.”

Find out more about Venture Arts.

Find out more about the British Ceramics Biennial.