Saturday, January 06, 2007

Art Space Talk: Anthony Barrow

I recently interviewed artist Anthony Barrow. Mr. Barrow is a lecturer for Wigan and Leigh College and a professional artist. His paintings are an interpretation of his existance within the context of modern culture.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "Art has always been an important part of my life but after I completed my degree it became a way of life."
Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "There has never been a better time in human history to be part of a society that has mass visual information available at any time of day and night. We do not need to leave the comfort of our living room sofa to witness events from around the world, as an artists I feel compelled to document my emotional reactions to some of these images be they truthful or not?

"The context within which we experience an event will determine how that event is encoded and retained." (Oxford Companion to the Mind. Richard L. Gregory. 1987) "

Q. On average, how long does it take you create one painting?

A. "I never know when I start a painting how long it will take before I can say it is finished. I try to be bold and spontaneous as I feel this method allows for more of my emotions to become manifest in the work, some of my most enjoyable and I believe best work has been started and completed in an afternoon."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "I usually have some kind of background music or the radio to keep me company, the studio can be a very lonely place especially when searching for inspiration, the radio keeps me in touch with society."
Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "I have been enjoying relative success in the art market over the last few years. I believe that because my work is very diverse and mainly figurative it was not appropriate for commercial and gallery representation, recently however figurative works seem to be more popular."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. ""The Others" (image above) Oil on board, 48" x 36", was based on the film of the same name. The characters in this film take us on an emotional journey of sadness, joy, fear, love etc. The film is a ghost story with a twist at the end and it touched me greatly, I think it was the children's relationship with their mother together with the dramatic lighting and the psychological effect the images had on me personally that made me want to paint this image. If the painting brings out just one of these emotions within the viewer then I think I have succeeded."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "My degree gave me the confidence to push my work to another dimension by the diversity of scale and materials. The academic side of research and writing deepened my understanding of artists and contemporary issues, I must admit I was a little disappointed by the reaction of some of the tutors to students who just wanted to draw and paint, we got a hard time and most painters turned to installation and video."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I began using acrylics because of their quick drying properties and ease of cleaning, at university I began to experiment with acrylics and oil paints and now use both mediums or a combination of the two to achieve desired results."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "I have no specific gallery representing my work at the moment but I am in the process of discussing terms with a well known gallery in Bath. "
Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "Over the years I have exhibited at The Mall Gallery, Oxo Gallery and the The Air Gallery, London.

I have exhibited in various galleries around the country i.e. Wrexham Art Gallery, Stockport, Grosvenor Museum, Cheshire, Williamson Art Gallery the Wirral, Salford Art Gallery, Turnpike Gallery, Leigh and more recently the University of Manchester, Reynold Building."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "I believe figurative painting is becoming more popular, in the 70`s and 80`s conceptual and abstract art was the flavour of the day it was taught within colleges and universities and we are now witnessing the outcome of students that where educated in that climate.

Today figure drawing is being taught more regularly, basic skills like recognising and representing negative shapes and tones on a two dimensional surface is considered a necessary part of art education."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Just keep at it, don't be distracted from your goal and practice your art as much as possible. Don't forget your art needs to be out there in the world so that people can appreciate what you are doing and don't let criticism get to you it is just a persons opinion and who can say if they are right anyway."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "Yes it has, in 2005 at a charity exhibition for the Army Benevolent Fund, the exhibition was held in a church in Preston and I had submitted a few works one of which was a nude study, oil on board.

When I arrived for the preview the work had not been hung and I was not given the reason, I could only surmise that it was because it was a nude, how many naked statues and images do we have in our churches?

The laughable thing about it all was that you could not tell from the painting if the figure was male or female there was not indication, on reflection I am quite pleased not many artists have had work censored."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "The hardest part of my career was knowing that I wanted to be a full time artist and not having the opportunity to devote enough time and effort to my practice. I had to earn an income from a job I hated and together with my wife raise a family, after careful deliberation the family decided to stand by me and support me whilst I completed a fine art degree as a mature student. As you get older you realise that the quality of your life is much more important than the money."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "I create art to experience the need to be creative and put something of my innermost emotions back into the world."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "Manchester has a thriving art scene but London is where the money is ,you are much more likely to succeed and live as a practicing artist in the capitol than in any other part of the country."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "I steer clear of direct my at political issues and if I do feel the need document a specific moment in political history, some image I feel strongly about, I try to be as ambiguous as possible allowing the viewer to make up their own minds."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "No, the cause of most of the worlds problems today and throughout history is because of religion."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "It was Eric Fischel the famous American figurative artist that said " Artists of my generation feel that they can borrow freely from any time and place to construct our own image. So called pluralism means that you can locate yourself in different periods of time." I totally agree with this concept, in a modern society we are influenced more than ever by the images we see every day in the media, TV, advertising and film and these images affect out emotional life and are part of our existence. An artist can only document what he sees in the world around him in his allotted time on this earth."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Anthony Barrow. Feel free to critique or discuss his art.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Interesting (yawn) rehash.