Jo Barry was born in Kent where she studied art at Ravensbourne College of Art and Design. After teaching for a few years at Byam Shaw School of Art, she gave up teaching in 1981 to concentrate full time on her own work. Jo’s talents led her to etching as her principal means of artistic expression, although she also is proficient and talented at watercolors and pencil drawings.
Jo enjoys a considerable reputation in the art world and now ranks as one of the finest living etchers. Her skill led her to election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. Her studio is at her home in the New Forest, Ringwood, where she lives with her husband and son as well as five cocker spaniels, sheep, chickens, ducks, and countless doves. Her environment provides Jo with a great deal of the inspiration for her work, which depicts nature and her beloved English countryside.
Etching is an ancient skill. I etch on sheets of copper which are degreased and coated in a layer of wax. I then draw into the wax using a fine needle, removing the wax without scratching the surface. When the copper plate is dipped into acid, this eats into the exposed metal creating texture. An engraver cuts into the metal using sharp tools, an etcher lets the acid do the work for them.
In order to see exactly what this texture looks like I take a “proof” print of the plate. Oil based ink is rubbed into the cracks and crevices in the plate and the surface is then cleaned. The plate passes through a press where the image is drawn out of the texture onto damp paper. This, of course, will be a mirror image of what has been drawn originally.
This process is repeated many times with more being added to the image until I am happy with what I see. The production of a plate ready to the point where I can pull the edition can take many months. The final stage of preparation is sending the plate away to have a very fine coating of steel applied. Amazingly this does not affect the image but it does enable me to print in colour
The “pulling” (or printing) of an individual etching can take up to half an hour for each one of the plates has to be covered in all the colours used, the surface cleaned and the plates put through the press. Because each one is hand inked and I am not a machine each one will be subtly unique. The damp paper is allowed to dry naturally for up to a week between sheets of acid free tissue paper that are changed every day. Then it is numbered (each edition is limited to 150) titled and signed.
I have always wanted to be an artist, I just cannot imagine being anything else. During the first few years after art school I was a teacher which was wonderful as children have so much talent and use it with a greater sense of fun than we grownups!
I have been very lucky in that since I graduated I have been able to show my work in a number of beautiful galleries and many of the people running these have become good friends.
In 1984 I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Print-makers, which together with the Royal Watercolour Society is based at the Bankside Gallery in London.
In 1994 I moved with my family to the New Forest and my love of the English landscape found its perfect home. Since then this ancient part of England, in all its many moods and changes of weather has been my constant inspiration.
My studio is crammed with work in progress and my dogs. It is a great life!