Richard Ord: I’m too shallow to dig too deep

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WHAT I know about art could probably be written in large green crayon on the back of very small stamp and still leave space for a freehand sketch of an elephant.

I may not know much, but what I do know is this: If that coloured-in back of a stamp was framed and handed into the Tate Modern there’s a good chance it would feature in the Turner Prize shortlist.

All that’s needed is a decent explanation.

Providing you can supply some sort of back-story to the artwork, throw in a few long words and link it to the collapse of society or some existential human malaise (no, I don’t know what I mean by that either) then you’re in with a shout.

How else does an unmade bed or a lightbulb blinking in the dark get trumpeted as artistic genius?

I mention this in light of a new exhibition by Sunderland artist Barrie West (pictured above), which featured in the Echo’s entertainment supplement theGuide this week.

Some of the work he’s done is, to my eye, big and colourful and I wouldn’t hesitate in putting it up on our children’s bedroom wall. I like it, but then Barrie had to go and spoil everything with an arty deconstruction of his daubs.

What looks like big cheerful circles of colour are dragged down by the Brian Sewell treatment dished out by Barry.

He said he: “.... evolved a technique in my work which allowed me to gradually peel back layers to that which lay below. A psychological archaeology, exposing layers hitherto concealed, formed the central strand of my research. Locked within us all are the memories, the psychic imprints left by emotions.

“I am trying to fix these imprints into a visual language which can be read and recognised by all.”

I would have laughed, but then I looked closely at his latest offering and yes, the framed creation unlocked an emotional memory imprint.

I’d almost forgotten about that day when my brother smashed an alarm clock over my head. Uncanny.