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Margaret Barker was interested in charging everyday incidents with extraordinary meaning. The quiet atmosphere of this bedroom interior is established through the ritualised movements of the woman and girl as they make the bed. This stillness is echoed in a painting over the bed, The Courtyard of a House in Delft by Pieter de Hooch (1629-84), which Barker must have seen in the National Gallery, London. The archway in this painting is transformed by Barker into a doorway onto a landing and window. An inscription over the archway translates: 'This is in Saint Jerome's vale, if you wish to repair to patience and meekness. For we must first descend if we wish to be raised.'

August 2004