Edge Effects: Barry Sykes Public Talk and Reading Group

Barry Sykes is an artist based in London. For his Artist Talk, scheduled to coincide with his Edge Effects Reading Group on Saturday, Barry will use the context at SSW to examine his recent and current projects in relation to ideas of Hermits, retreating, escape and detachment. How artist and audience navigate the dramatic shifts between isolation and engagement when presenting or understanding work and ideas.

Barry’s artwork is about awkwardness, absurdity, authenticity and intimacy, with recent projects involving Laughter Yoga, West End Theatre, Pitman Shorthand and Naturism. His varied practice develops in response to the context of its making, whether in the isolation of the studio or immersed in conversation with a particular person, place or process. Adapting, subverting or misunderstanding deliberately basic or frugal handmade and digital techniques to trace a line around inappropriate or overlooked behaviour. Although rooted in sculpture, making and the object this open-ended approach has also incorporated performance, forgery, karaoke, astronomy, PowerPoint lectures, feedback forms and experimental photography.

For Saturday’s reading group Barry has selected two short extracts from Anthony Storr’s ‘Solitude’ (1997) from the Edge Effects Library, to be examined together using the ‘Close Reading’ technique. These will then be contrasted with the example of the North Pond Hermit, a recently discovered recluse of 27 years, introduced by two readings by Barry from Michael Finkel’s ‘The Stranger in The Woods’ (2017).

This will be followed by one of Barry’s Sauna Reading Groups. After the main session held in the library there will be a post-discussion around the same (laminated) texts in the SSW sauna directly afterwards. This sauna element is entirely optional.

Solo exhibitions include ‘Sociable Hermit’, University of Bath, Somerset, UK; “it must be told”, Enclave, London, UK; Recreate a Nervy Pistol? (An Early Retrospective), Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth, UK; ‘The Desperate Designer, Gallop, London (Part of the London Design Festival) and ‘I Was Born The Day Heidegger Died (But I Don’t Know Much About His Work)’, i-cabin, London. Recent events have been presented at Focal Point Gallery, Southend UK; Kings ARI, Melbourne; Arnolfini, Bristol; Limoncello, London; The Showroom, London; Spike Island, Bristol; Tate St Ives, Cornwall; Tate Modern, London and the Immersive Vision Theatre, Plymouth. He has undertaken residencies in Finland, Sweden, Germany and the UK. He specialised in sculpture for his Fine Art MA at Chelsea College of Art 1999-2000.

Barry is currently Artist in Residence at Oakwood Sun Club in association with Radical Essex.


Date: Friday 26 January, 7.00pm- 8.30pm
(Light Supper from 7.00pm, talk starts 7.30pm)

Date: Saturday 27 January,  12.30pm – 3pm
(Light lunch from 12.30, reading group starts 1.00pm)

Please bring a large towel, flip flops, swimming costume if you wish to participate in the sauna. Remember the sauna is optional.

Barry has selected two short extracts from Anthony Storr’s ‘Solitude’ (1997) from the Edge Effects Library, and Michael Finkel’s ‘The Stranger in The Woods’ (2017). Link to pdf here.

Public Talk: No booking required for the public talk but please contact us in advance for large groups.
Reading Group: The reading group is limited to 12 participants with only 6 spaces available for public booking so please book in advance, to book please contact admin@ssw.org.uk.

*Unfortunately there is no accommodation available at SSW at this time, if you need assistance finding somewhere please let us know when you are booking.

  • Share