Saturday September 9 is European Heritage Open Day (EHOD) and provides a rare opportunity to view the work of own Banbridge based artist Tommy Barr.
As part of the Open Day a retrospective exhibition of Tommy’s paintings spanning the last twelve years is to be presented in the Old Town Hall first floor gallery.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to admire this beautiful 185 year old Grade B1 listed building which Jason Diamond, Tourist Information Officer with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council describes as “one of the most important buildings in Banbridge, recently restored by the council to its former glory.”
As an internationally recognised artist Tommy has in recent years travelled extensively across Europe, the Middle East and beyond. The journey has been an exciting one with many highlights to recall.
Particularly memorable were his stay with a Bedouin family in Wadi Rum desert and dining with HRH Princess Wijdan Al-Hashemi of Jordan, painting in rapidly deteriorating situations in Crimea and Kashmir and representing his country in major international festivals in Spain, France, Egypt, Malaysia and the Czech Republic.
It has also produced little flashes of success along the way with his invitation to membership of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Science in New York and seeing his paintings collected by a number of important institutions, including the national galleries of Jordan and Bulgaria, the National Museum of Art in Romania and the French National Archive.
Tommy describes this travel as an essential part of his practice finding inspiration in the lives of the people he meets and the places they inhabit, learning what is important to them, their beliefs, their traditions and their arts. The exhibition is largely a result of this journey with many of the paintings having been created in the various locations, or for exhibitions to be held there, or subsequently in direct response to experiences whilst there.
Also on display will be a new piece, just completed and titled “Unresolved” which contemplates the recent arrival of refuges from the Middle East. Tommy’s journals will be on display at the exhibition allowing visitors to see photographs of the many locations and to gain an insight into the ideas and inspiration behind the paintings.
All are invited and Tommy hopes that many will stop by to say hello and enjoy the day. Having last exhibited in Northern Ireland in 2011 and with his next two exhibitions in Indonesia and Haiti it is fair to say this is a rare outing for Tommy’s paintings locally.
However he believes the ethos of the festival and the beautiful old building are an irresistible combination and he is clearly looking forward to the day.
The building will be open to all from 10am until 4pm on Saturday September 9 and admission is free.