Kit Barker

Kit Barker was born in London in 1916 and was the younger brother of the poet George Barker. Barker served in the British Army from 1942 until the end of WW2 in 1945. In 1948 he married the writer Ilse Gross (1921–2006), who wrote under the pen name Katherine Talbot.

Barker was a largely self-taught painter and moved to Cornwall where he lived from 1947 to 1948. He rented a sail loft in Newlyn where he and Ilse lived and worked, befriending fellow artists Bryan Wynter and David Haughton and becoming involved with the artists’ colony in St Ives.

In 1949 Kit and Ilse left Cornwall for the USA where Kit lectured at Skidmore College in New York. They stayed at Yaddo Artists’ Community in Saratoga Springs and from 1951 to 1952 Barker taught with Hassel Smith, Elmer Bischoff and David Park at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

Following their return to England in 1953 he and Ilse moved to Bexley Hill in Sussex continuing to travel extensively throughout Europe and the U.S.A.. Kit Barker’s work can be found in private collections in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Italy, South Africa, Sweden, the United States and Germany.

Kit and Ilse Barker had one son, Thomas. Barker died in West Sussex in 1988. Katherine Talbot’s account of their time in Newlyn can be found in her monograph ‘Kit Barker, Cornwall, 1947-1948: Recollections of Painters and Writers’ published by The Book Gallery in 1993.

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