I was delighted that Barry Thompson was up for answering some questions for my blog. Help me make Barry more famous by spreading the word about him and has amazing drawings.
Harry: Is all art useless? (David Hockney said art is the opposite of design for this reason.)
Barry: "All art is not useless, but some of it is. I suspect Morris and Burne-Jones (Wilde’s contemporaries) would of strongly disagreed with this sentiment, and I tend to sit their side of the fence. I assume Hockney meant that it couldn’t be used as a tool or eat your dinner off of it? But then again wasn’t it Man Ray or Duchamp that said that they wanted to use a Rembrandt as an ironing board? I can’t remember. Anyway the point is it still has a function in society. Beauty has a power beyond us, Morris knew this, so did Keats. Am I saying all art should aspire to a condition of beauty? Not necessarily, but it seems to me that most good art does. There is a good quote by John Ruskin; ‘the greatest thing a human soul does in this world is to see something and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one.’
(Above image Blackbird by Barry Thompson)
How hard do you work and is your work getting better?
"I don’t work too hard, I can only do about 6-7 hours in the studio, I used to be able to do more, it’s a bit frustrating. I’m always thinking about the work though even when I’m not in the studio I mean. I don’t know if the work is getting better, I hope it is. It’s a continual process of saying the same thing but trying to say it in a different way every time. At the moment I want less, stripped down, clarification, an essence, with simpler compositions, still within the realms of realism, still relying on the craft I have developed, but its not easy, as any artist will tell you. In fact it seems to get harder the longer you keep at it! I think its always been like this though if I’m honest."
(above image: Songthrush)
Who do you see as a kindred spirit in the art world?
"I find no kindred spirits in the current art world; all of mine are dead and long gone. I dislike most contemporary art. There are a few that occasionally do something that inspires, but I increasingly have to look back to my student days for that kind of thing I find. When I first saw George Shaw’s work it was like looking in a mirror. I quite like Martin Creed. Jeremy Deller does some good things, but I feel he’s more of a social commentator than an artist. Or maybe that’s what an artist is? Hmm…Actually Hockney can still pull a punch, I mean where does that guy find his energy?
(Above image: The Crossing)
Are you looking for gallery representation or are you happy to do everything yourself?
A gallery would be good yes. I’ve shown with two galleries. I got taken on straight out of the MA so I was lucky. That was ten years ago now. I’m absolutely useless at networking and self-promotion, what ever that means, I don’t even have a website, yet. So yes representation is very desirable, to deal with that side of things, I find it hard to cope with anything else other than the business of making work in the studio. Galleries are extremely hard to come by now though.