Tommy Barr - Artist

The early art of Ireland is rich in the highly distinctive motifs which characterise the Celtic style. Central to this was the tendency to express ideas by symbol. This premeditated abstraction resulted in the curious, beautiful (and occasionally grotesque) icons that are the foundation of art in the Province. Nowhere is this more obvious than at the ancient sites of the bend in the Boyne.

County Down based artist Tommy Barr calls upon this legacy to produce abstract contemporary icons. He readily recognizes his debt to recent artistic movements. Many are easily discernible and Tommy has not sought to disguise their influences. However, his challenge remains, to retain both the disorder and the potency of the early icons, to speak in our native tongue and (hopefully) to express that unique and still curious iconic identity.

Achill Island
Achill Island

The Cat Stone
The Cat Stone

Srahwee Wedge Tomb, Co. Mayo

Aughnacliff Aughnacliff Dolmen, Co. Longford

Brown Bull Walking - An Exhibition from the Kingdoms of Conchobar and Medb.

These four icons were created during 2008 from pencil sketches drawn on location. They make up part of Tommy's March 2009 exhibition at Brú na Bóinne.

The exhibition consists of new paintings depicting the megalithic landscape of Ireland. From Louth and Meath in the East to Mayo and Sligo in the West, the exhibition brings together images from a network of important sites that represent the sacred origins of our country.

The route through the exhibition criss-crosses the trail of the epic Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) saga. Indeed the sites depicted pre-date the saga and would have been familiar reference points for the key protagonists and for the citizens of those legendary kingdoms. For the visitor, the journey through Tommy's paintings is a wonderful opportunity to spend a little time enjoying the gifts of our ancestors and the legends which we have built around them.

Tommy speaks with great fondness of his time spent researching this exhibition, explaining that “these sites and the craftsmanship of the period are the inspiration for much of what I do”. Dr Greer Ramsey of the Armagh County Museum describes him as an artist who “draws upon the past for inspiration, producing relevant modern pieces in a distinctive and instantly recognisable style”. Tommy continues “each place has it own unique beauty and the mood changes from site to site, I hope I have been able to capture just a little of that”.

The exhibition will be on display throughout the month of March 2009. Tommy will be on location between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm each Saturday and also on Friday 20th March to enjoy the spring (vernal) equinox, which will occur at 11.43 am on that day. He is looking forward to spending time with visitors to the centre and hopes that all will stop by to say hello.

Following this exhibition the paintings will move to the West of Ireland, where they will be shown in the National Museum, Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

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