Judith Walker with painting Gutted II 2023

Judith Walker’s London based; art practice has spanned over 40 years. She has always placed a strong emphasis on the use of colour, while also enjoying the tactile qualities of painting, drawing and printing materials to produce abstract forms. Walker trained at Central St Martins and then did a Master’s at New Mexico State University. Her work has been used in public works of art Window of the Soul for South Bank University (1997) and The Peckham Eye Project for the Peckham Library (2001-02). Since 2002 she has also developed a style using the shapes and colours in abstracts with text to provide glimpses of internal emotions.

While doing a master’s research degree at Birkbeck in 2015 Walker developed an interest in a more three-dimensional approach, particularly using folds within cloth, based on an interest in Deleuze’s theories of the fold. This has been combined with the use of spray paint to capture the ambiguity of negative and positive shapes and has become an important element of this work. For her dissertation she created Behind the Curtain from canvas and spray paint, based on childhood experiences of playing in the space behind the curtain. She also found that the ideas in Balzac’s short story “Sarrasine” resonated with this work. This piece was recreated as an installation over two floors for a solo show at Gallery 106, London in 2017. Walker then went on to work with multimedia aspects of the fold creating the video performance Womb. The narrative on the video used words from a short story “Colour Between the Folds” by Mark Say which was inspired by Walker’s Behind the Curtain piece. Further explorations involved the use of plaster of Paris moulds, in pieces such as Causeway (2016) and Internal Folds of External Maze (2019).

Walker also has a reputation as a cartoonist her work being regularly featured in national publications. She was included in The Inking Women a book published in 2018 which was a history of 250 years of the best British female cartoonists. A residency in 2015 at UCL Hospital inspired Walker to combine her practice fine art practice and cartoons. This residency led to the creation of large cartoon paintings inspired by the hospital experience, including He Refused To Be Treated (2017), some on creased cloth infused with latex reflecting crumpled stained NHS sheets, such as Ward Performance (2017). In 2018 she then went on to explore contemporary political and social issues through the cartoon paintings with works including Dysfunctional Families and Contradictory Madonna.

2019-20 Walker worked with words creating paintings, drawings and books which contained emotional stories or a journey. An example is Directions (2019), which was further developed into a zine, The Paper Maze (2021). The latter was created to take the reader on an emotional journey, whilst giving them the experience of how a dyslexic person has to negotiate reading material.

As a response to the shock of the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 Walker made a large pastel drawing with a message reaching out to people to create community in their isolation using the words - Where Are You? - I Am Here- Come This Way -You Are Welcome To Join Me On My Own. This drawing was used as a starting point when she was awarded a residency with nobarkingaRT as a part of its ‘A World Without End’ programme 2020. Her contribution involved producing large numbers of monoprints with words crudely scraped into the inks with a highly charged use of colour. Walker then went on to use other words inspired by the pandemic such as ‘Home Sweet Care Home’, focusing on how people were unable to visit their loved ones in care homes, Art Will Never Let Me Go, inspired by the novel ‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro, and conveying how in the pandemic the one thing she could rely on to see her through was art. In other works, the words were printed over photographs of a deserted London saying I dream of being in a crowded place. She started posting these on Instagram every day though out the lockdown periods in order to get her work and messages of empathy out to an audience under the rules of isolation.

2021-22 Walker concentrated on health and the human body by creating the Inside of Me series of androgynous, crude figures in fleshy visceral colours, and the I Live in a Complicated Place/Space – My Body series, about the complexity of living within the human body. This was something she had experienced herself through a chronic health problem but felt that COVID-19 has made this a universal human experience. The Starfish Person series compares the human body to starfish and imagines the gut as the centre of human emotion. These series were all manifested as both large pastel drawings and small monoprints

Through her interest in the gut, she has become involved in a collaborative project creating a publication Digest Reader funded by TACO, which contains artworks inspired by the human digestive system. Walker uses medical photographs of her own colon to make digital images and created Gutted I and II large colourful pieces of work celebrating the human gut.