A Newport working Studio Gallery

55 Bellevue Avenue, Newport RI 02840
401-849-9166

Jillian Barber

Mythical portraits and imaginary animals are enduring themes in Jillian Barber’s ceramic sculpture.
 
Born in Staffordshire, England, Jillian grew up in Westerly, RI and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. At RISD, she studied clay with Norm Schulman and glass blowing with Dale Chihuly. An artist from childhood, Jillian’s fascination with nature, animals, faces, and costume continues today. Jillian began casting faces in plaster in the 70’s. Friends, family, and beautiful strangers were cast and immortalized in clay. Each face with an ornate headdress transcends the ordinary and inspires a different theme becoming goddess, deva, greenman, queen or fairy king. Her expressive work is exotic, richly textured, and exquisitely detailed. She has cast faces from age 7 to the wonderfully wrinkled. Ceramic animals have evolved from four legged beasts and centaurs to mythical dragons, chimaeras, and cat like creatures all with their own presence.
 
After her first Rhinebeck Craft Fair wholesale show sponsored by the American Craft Council, Jillian moved to a carriage house on the Beavertail in Jamestown. Here her prolific career as an artist, sculptor, and photographer blossomed. During those years, she sold her work in over 30 stores across the country and began showing gallery pieces in various shows. For two summers she had a small cooperative gallery called Ocean House Artisans at the Ocean House in Watch Hill. And in January 2019, Jillian was invited to be Artisan-in Residence at the Ocean House. She still happily resides in Jamestown in the West Ferry. For over 30 years, Jillian was mask and costume director for the Chorus of Westerly’s annual Celebration of Twelfth Night. On stage, her mythical dragons, unicorns, wild boars, stags, and wolves came alive gorgeously decorated in fur and brocade. Many of these beasts were later translated into clay sculpture. In 2006, the Newport Art Museum hosted a retrospective titled Vintage Jillian. One of her large clay beasts, Katmandu, is in the NAM permanent collection. Jillian’s work received a RI State Council on the Arts Fellowship in Design, numerous Katherine Forest Foundation awards of excellence, and over 100 juried awards.
 
Recently GAIA, a clay mask, received the Clay Award at the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts show at the Mystic Museum of Art. Jillian is an elected artist member of MMoA, the Art League of RI, the Newport Art Museum, the Wickford Art Association, the South County Art Association, and past board member of Conanicut Island Art Association. Her work is represented by the Charlestown Gallery, the Fuller Gallery in Jamestown, and Studio 460 Gallery in Wickford, RI. Jillian is delighted to be a new member of Spring Bull in July 2019.
 

Sphynx

Jardiniere

Flower Faerie

Dragon

In the Realm of Faerie