Tommy’s poignant painting is well-received in South Korea

Tommy with ASROPA President, Prof Dr Clemens Beungkun sou, organiser of the exhibition.
Tommy with ASROPA President, Prof Dr Clemens Beungkun sou, organiser of the exhibition.

Using an iconic symbol from the Northern Ireland troubles to convey themes of peace and a brighter future, local artist Tommy Barr has had a painting displayed at a major new exhibition in South Korea.

The exhibition which celebrates the “restoration of light day” - also called National Liberation Day and one of the most celebrated public holidays in South Korea, takes place in the Gunsan Arts Centre.

Control Zone painting

Control Zone painting

Tommy said: “National Liberation Day mirrors our VE and VJ day celebrations commemorating the end of the Second World War. It also celebrates the liberation of Korea from colonial rule.

“The title of the exhibition is Liberation. Marking the 70th anniversary of peace has been a major event across the world and the commemorations have been very poignant in South Korea”.

Tommy’s painting was carefully chosen to represent the themes of liberation and the restoration of peace.

As a backdrop it uses a very familiar poster, ‘control zone,’ from our troubled past.

“It’s a poster which I hope is fading from memory and receding into history,” he said.

“The painting depicts a small boy focused on looking forward, as if searching for something that he cannot quite see clearly. It symbolises a generation growing up with much of our troubles behind them searching for a better future.”

As part of the celebrations across South Korea, public museums and cultural centres offer free entry and many new exhibitions are created especially for the occasion.

Tommy’s participation was at the kind invitation of ASROPA.

Artists from 70 countries were invited, symbolising the number of years which have passed and also reflecting the worldwide significance of the commemoration.

Tommy’s painting has been well-received and appears to have resonated with viewers.

“Our peace process is clearly of interest internationally and is a symbol of hope for many,” he continued.

For Tommy the opportunity to present a positive view is always welcome and he said considers his invitation to participate in the celebrations a great honour and a compliment.

“A great deal of effort has been necessary to plan and pull this exhibition together and it has been a great pleasure to be part of it,” he added.

After the exhibition closes, the painting will remain with the ASROPA collection allowing the exhibition to travel to other venues. Tommy is looking forward to seeing how the exhibition develops and where it travels to.

Closer to home Tommy’s painting may be viewed on his website at