Claiming, “my work celebrates the messy, mystical, mad, human-scaled, rhythmic, Romantic, exuberant and excessive,” Hayley Barker merges abstraction and representation to produce paintings and drawings stemming from her interest in the body, nature, and psychological and visual experiences. Her work is grounded in the research she does into literary and historical texts, people, and places that reflect altered mental states. In her “Cathedrals” (2010-12) series, for example, she draws on the diary of naturalist and poet Opal Whiteley, who communed with nature and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Barker revisited the sites of Whiteley’s experiences, which she called “cathedrals”, translating them into lush, richly painted, semi-abstract landscapes and natural scenes as she may have experienced them. Her works are equally driven by her sense of the emotional resonance of color and the pleasure she derives from the act of painting itself.