Barrie West

 


Photo by Gavin Duthie

 

I Only Asked I
Invisibility
2007 Screen ink / mixed media
21 x 21

I Only Asked II
Those We Have Loved
2007 Screen ink / mixed media
21 x 21

…………….This series of work can be seen as time-capsules. Each work contains a collection of objects hidden behind the image in the frame. For example Walking with Mr Wells contains cigarette cards, picture postcards and maps………………..


(Amy Riches, Exhibition and Museum Assistant, Torre Abbey)

I Only Asked III
Walking With Mr Wells
2007 Screen ink / mixed media
21 x 21
I Only Asked IV
Routes
2007 Screen ink / mixed media
21 x 21

......................... Collecting is a basic human need. As a youngster museums fascinated me. Here was a way to recognize the confusion of sensations I was experiencing, to order the detritus of life, and to categorize the world around me. As a child I collected, identified and ordered my own little museum. As an adult I still collect. Maybe it is my direct conduit into my past, where to touch a relic from the past puts me in touch with that past.

Amelia Marriette: You categorize and put things in boxes?

Barrie West: Yes, in my more recent work, boxes have literally started to take prominence. Objects are collected and contained within them. They offer protection, they enclose, and they keep out the curious. The act of enclosing seems to have many functions.

Amelia Marriette: Is the box there to keep you at a particular distance from the spectator, or is it meant to encourage the visitor to examine the box, perhaps to find the key to unlock and open it?

Barrie West: I don’t know - throughout all my practice there is a constant struggle between the revealed and the private. I justify my use of boxes, to myself, by accepting it as a way of ordering my thoughts and therefore my life.


(Trace catalogue, Amelia Marriette, Keeper of Art at Torbay Council, in conversation with Barrie West)

I Only Asked V
Faces and Places
2007 Screen ink / mixed media
21 x 21
I Only Asked VI
The Tyranny of Collecting
2007 Screen ink / mixed media
21 x 21
I Only Asked VII
Seed Dispersal
2007 Screen ink / mixed media
21 x 21
I Only Asked VIII
In Search of Perfection
2007 Screen ink / mixed media
21 x 21
I Only Asked IX
Minding My Own Business
2007 Screen ink / mixed media
21 x 21

.....................The word trace does hold a personal significance. During the last three years I have been working on a series of images that have evolved from my retracing sixteen routes I regularly walked, when I lived in Torquay as a child. In 2007 I retraced my steps to school, to Saturday morning cinema, to Sunday School and so on. As I walked, I was aware of the warmth of recognition but also of a personal adjustment to change. I made rubbings on the ground; I photographed, drew and collected memorabilia. When I returned to my studio I worked these experiences into a series of new experiences and new works.

(Trace catalogue, Amelia Marriette, Keeper of Art at Torbay Council, in conversation with Barrie West)

Routes I
2008 Screen ink / mixed media
91.5 x 183.5

Routes II
2010 Screen ink / mixed media
91.5 x 183.5

Barrie West: I think the three of us attempt, in our own individual way, to make tangible the intangible. Within complementary graphic disciplines, we attempt to explore the essence of history whether it be contained within the memory of a personal past or locked within an object or artefact. I believe we find that the investigation and exploration into this generates a mapping process of the past that has been otherwise unrecorded.

Amelia Marriette: John Berger in his first book A Painter of Our Time (1959) talks about making the intangible, tangible; the artist faces the same difficulty – it is the difficulty that unites us – the difficulty of making the intangible, tangible.

Barrie West: Yes, exactly. It is a difficult journey – a journey of discovery seeking a truth. However, it was re-assuring to discover that I was not a lone traveller.


(Trace catalogue, Amelia Marriette, Keeper of Art at Torbay Council, in conversation with Barrie West)

Conversations in Sand
2009 Screen ink / mixed media
50 x 80

Diana and the Waltzer
2009 Screen ink / mixed media
50 x 80

Barrie West: To me the how in my practice is as complex and as amorphous as the why. The most common starting point for my work is simply just starting. Almost as haphazard as the laying down, in quite a mechanical fashion, layers of screened colour. Something will spark in front of me and an event or emotion from the past will nudge me forward. Having identified the subject, the process of construction and deconstruction begins. As every layer is added or carefully removed with solvents and abrasives, I feel closer and closer to the event that has been targeted.

Amelia Marriette: So is there a dialogue between you and the work?

Barrie West: Yes, it is a real conversation. The work is saying one thing, I am saying something different but during that visual debate a solution, a resolution is found and at that point Art is produced - a true collaboration between artist and materials.

Amelia Marriette: From the start of a new print to the finish, is it a fast process?

Barrie West: No, it is not a quick process. It may take many weeks to refine the work to the point of conclusion, the point of decreasing return for all the effort put into the process. The ephemeral quality of some memories may also make progress very slow - this might demand a refocusing of my intentions to more sharply define the subject matter.

The Further Adventures of Flameboy I
2009 Screen ink / mixed media
50 x 80

The Further Adventures of Flameboy II
2009 Screen ink / mixed media
50 x 80

The Further Adventures of Flameboy III
2009 Screen ink / mixed media
50 x 80

Amelia Marriette: Are titles important to you?

Barrie West: It is the responsibility of the artist to provide the viewer with a clue, a signpost or an indicator to help them accurately read or understand the narrative.

Amelia Marriette: So like a signpost directs you to a particular destination, there is no certainty the viewer will arrive at your destination?

Barrie West: In the Further Adventures of Flame Boy I, II, and III, for example, there are similarities between the images, but also significant differences. I have explored more thoroughly, my relationship with the other protagonists in the narrative. The figure is always there but in one or two the definition is less obvious. These pieces reference the change within the individual whilst coping with the demands and expectations of others - a theme linked to the images by the use of titles.

Amelia Marriette: Is it also about making your work more accessible to the general public?

Barrie West: The nature of the work might make the reading more difficult for some but I have always favoured an opinion that a struggle to interpret the narrative and the meaning makes the message more powerful and the solution more satisfying. Maybe the provision of titles will make this process a little easier, but I think it has more to do with my owning the narrative and personalizing it as my story.

Amelia Marriette: Do you think by personalizing the story, the narrative becomes less universal?

Barrie West: No, of course I don’t. But what you have managed to identify is my caution about being too specific with my imagery. My intention is to encourage self-exploration in the viewer and not merely to illustrate my narrative. As for my story, it’s not so unique or unusual. It’s a story of anyone and everyone.………………………….

Breathing Out
2010 Screen ink / mixed media
50 x 80

Nuclear Family
2009 Screen ink / mixed media
50 x 80

Snappers
2010 Screen ink / mixed media
61 x 91.5

Barrie West: When someone stands in front of a piece of my work they have a choice, they can engage with it in a perfunctory way, responding to its outward appearance or stand a while to experience something more deep and spiritual. And, with a little effort, it is my intention the personal becomes the universal………………



A limited number of TRACE catalogues are still available from BarrieWestArtist@aol.com