Previous Exhibition

Kate Barry —

Aug 31 – Sep 9, 2023

About the Artist      

Kate Barry joins us again for a solo exhibition exploring her signature lyrical abstraction practice. Kate’s journey has been acknowledged with numerous finalist selections in esteemed awards, including the Clayton Utz Prize, The Lethbridge 20,000, Lethbridge Landscape Prize, The Milburn Landscape Prize and Brisbane Contemporary Art Prize and now winner of The Hawkesbury Art Prize.

Download the 'Diversion' exhibition catalogue here

For a copy of the printed catalogue, contact Side Gallery here

Artwork Notes


Kate is a Side Gallery veteran, and her work sits comfortably in the sun-dappled gallery of the Red Hill space.

A local artist, Barry’s works reflect her surroundings in distinct ways that aren’t immediate but feel familiar. My first impressions are of lush gardens, and refined and relaxed interiors. For this collection, Barry’s canvases follow no specific theme. Although each work embodies her signature layered abstraction, the unifying quality is that each was painted at some point this year.

It’s been a big year for Barry, and she explains that she has recently chosen a path at a crossroads. For an artist who paints so intuitively and with such physicality, I feel there’s an organic narrative at the core of each work that suggests this. Each one of the works in this collection is a snapshot of moments from the last twelve months. To Barry, they are time travellers, a record of emotion, expressions of a year in her life.

Curator Laura has worked in interesting ways with this theme, and the collection hangs in shades. This choice directly emphasises the connections between each work, yet also deliberately calls attention to the interesting comparisons they make.

The show’s title, 'Diversion', is explained by Barry as a transference of energy from her day-to-day life to the surface, and I like to think you can see this in the physicality of application in each work. 'Diversion' is a diary of immersive gestures, and Barry says that each of the work’s titles represents her experience at the time. Similar lines and shapes across several pieces indicate the strings of Barry’s life as she lives it.

Visible in 'The Promise', soft orange and pink confetti and dreamy whitewash ribbons are in motion across soft greens and nudes. It has a kind of energy that’s fizzy and sweet, and it stands out immediately. It causes me to search for similar expressions elsewhere to find a sort of evolution in similar strokes, to see Barry’s year unfold before me. Areas of blue, peaceful, form Barry’s baseline, and in 'Blue Flames', we see this in restful pools, but there are other works where it is expressed only as linework or found only in the darkest hues. It’s there as frenetic energy around a moment of peace in 'Sometimes Riot' or as a part of a loose, surreal daydream in 'Dropcloth'.

There’s work here, in 'Summer Swathe', 'Quietly' and 'Tangled Up', that seems dominated by blocky shape, and I enjoy theorising about what causes the artist to become so defiant and certain but, at other times, so soft. To me, this exemplifies Barry’s process as an expression of her ongoing conversation with her own life.

Barry’s painted layers reveal her experience, and that familiarity begins to resolve itself in her gestural freedom. The works in 'Diversion' express a time and place we are all familiar with — the tenderness and contemplation that make up the layers of our own day-to-day life.

About the Artist

Kate Barry

Kate’s journey has been acknowledged with numerous finalist selections and esteemed awards, including winner of The Hawkesbury Art Prize, highly commended in the Lethbridge Landscape Prize and The Milburn Landscape Prize, finalist in The Lethbridge 20,000 prizes, NEAP, National Emerging Artist Prize online selection, Clayton Utz Prize, and Brisbane Contemporary Art Prize.

Her artistic footprint spans the globe, with solo and group exhibitions in Queensland, NSW, and Christchurch. Her works are held in Australia, the USA, Spain, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. Notably, her pieces find a cherished place in The Modern Furniture Stores’ collections across various cities. Furthermore, her work found prominence on the international stage through ABC television’s crime drama Harrow.

As Kate’s practice surges ahead, marked by a multitude of accomplishments—ranging from commissions to online and boutique sales, television features, and national prize finalist positions—she seamlessly integrates this progression into her exploration of new conceptual dimensions, challenging the boundaries of her successful painting career.

About the Curator

Laura Brinin

Laura Brinin is a curator of contemporary art, currently facilitating the vibrant program at Side Gallery in the heart of Red Hill, Brisbane. With an unwavering passion for nurturing connections with emerging and established creatives, Laura is dedicated to fostering artistic growth through avenues such as social media, branding, and identity development.

Laura has exhibited her own work both in Australia and overseas, as well as working as an independent freelance curator across Brisbane for over ten years. In her downtime, you can find her reading, travelling, or stalking dogs.