Interview with Noj Barker about Sponsor a Dot for World Water Day
Published: March 18, 2017
How did you begin to develop your style of dot painting?
I started painting with gouache in 2007. It was then I became a dot painter. Applying voluminous droplets of paints which descend onto the canvas and dry quickly. I created a language with a specific set of rules and for three years I was down an obsessive-compulsive rabbit hole of elaborate jigsaw puzzles. Culminating in spending nine months on one huge painting comprising of literally millions of dots.
Creating these pictures must take considerable concentration:
Well, I am engaged in a self-absorbing meditation where my focus is on a very small area. As I create more and more circles and more and more dots the repetition is like a never-ending mantra. It's the same, but ever-changing. In nature we see patterns, but everything is unique. The more dots I paint the more beautiful, intricate and complete it becomes. For as long as I can remember I have always had an urge to obsessively count things and I attach huge significance to what I am counting.
It seems you had successful shows up to 2010 and then stopped exhibiting:
I had reached a point where my work was attracting attention and good sales were being made from the shows, but I felt I wanted to concentrate primarily on my young children, work on my painting in the studio and not focus on the demanding aspects of exhibiting. We moved out of London to live in the countryside, focused on family life and now It now feels like the future has caught up with me. I have gained a basic understanding of social media and the tremendous opportunity to reach a broad audience. The most exciting aspect of my work has resulted form the development of scanning technology, which means that my very detailed pictures can now be magnified to previously unimaginable proportions. In 2013 I made the video, Dot Painting To Schubert, and this year decided to promote it on Facebook. As it has just reached 750,000 views I am realizing the huge power of these platforms. Using this network to help others is a very positive step.
The video has a mesmerising quality, the music is beautiful, do you paint to music?
Yes, it helps with the focus and classical music is my first love. Although I am inspired by many other genres too and styles from all over the world.
Has access to water always been important to you?
Definitely! In the Western world we forget how important it is to be able to simply turn on a tap to get water. Considering the riches of the world, the fact that so many people can't do this simple thing is really distressing. It just seems incredibly obvious that if you can dig a hole deep enough to find water where people above ground are thirsty we ought to be helping to do that.
Why did you particularly decide to paint a picture for World Water Day?
I have always thought that the process of painting these pictures is like rain falling. It was recently pointed out to me that the endurance required to paint a picture is like running a marathon. So why not be sponsored like a runner? Each drop of paint can represent provisions of water wherever it is needed. This is a really exciting prospect.
When did you first hear about WaterAid?
I came across WaterAid at Glastonbury Festival in 1994. We asked if they came to assist Oasis! I realized then how important their work is and I thought one day I would like to do something significant for them.
Thank you for your time Noj, and I wish you every success with Sponsor A Dot for World Water Day.
Visit: The Sponsor A Dot page at nojbarker.com more about Noj at nojbarker.com
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Contact Noj by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 37 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 25 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 24 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.
Around 315,000 children die each year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s almost 900 children each day, or one child every two minutes. An estimated 663 million people (around one in ten) are without safe water. Nearly 2.4 billion people (around one in three) live without improved sanitation. For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity. Just £15 can help provide one person with access to safe water.
Read about dot painter Noj Barker going blue for World Water Day 22nd March 2017 and sponsor a dot