Sunderland artist paints autobiography

Artist Barrie West in his studio in  Roker, Sunderland with his art work done in collaboration with poet James Oates.
Artist Barrie West in his studio in Roker, Sunderland with his art work done in collaboration with poet James Oates.
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TO the untrained eye they may look like a splattering of colour, but these paintings are an intricate autobiographical account of an artist.

Abstract artist Barrie West has teamed up with poet James Oates to create their latest collaboration, Urban Stories and Levitating Rust.

The product of two years’ work, the installation will be premiering at a Sunderland summer solstice event, before heading to Cornwall for a special showing.

The four 30in by 48in paintings will be accompanied by four poems and, as with much of Barrie’s art, are an account of his life.

Each of the four paintings tells a different story and together they paint a bigger picture which, accompanied by the words, aims to challenge viewers.

Barrie, of Roker, said: “The paintings, Urban Stories, use the idea that all of our stories, no matter how trivial, make up who we are.”

The first painting is about both the difficulties and freedoms faced as a youngster moving from childhood to adolescence.

“It’s about no longer needing your parents and finding your own way in life,” he said. “It’s about breaking rules and going out there and finding your own way.”

The second in the series is about Barrie’s move from the South West to the North East in the 1960s.

“It’s about the hope and disappointment of my move from the fat South to the urbanisation of the North,” he said.

“There was disappointment that I was picking up from people in the 70s when things were really imploding with industries.”

Barrie added: “The third, Wasteland Between, is about the area that we all have around us that we want to explore and understand, which I see as positive.

“If you take away that wasteland, you become closer to one another but there’s the sense of becoming an individual.”

The final painting, Broken, he said, is more optimistic.

“It’s about the breaking up of relationships being a useful tool because if you can’t break a relationship then you can’t move on to another one, which might be better.

“It’s the ying and yang – it breaks your heart but soon enough, something better comes along.”

The premiere takes place on Thursday at Studio Q, Nile Street, with the poems being performed at 9pm.

They will remain on display until Friday, June 29.

Twitter: @sunechochief