Open Day and Carnival

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Pinting of House of Eduard Guyard

Fragments of Barmouth – Paintings by Bernard Barnes

Please note the gallery is closed on Mondays and also will be closed on Saturday 13th August for a private function.

About the Exhibition

Most of the paintings in this exhibition are recent. Although Barnes has been closely associated with Barmouth for many years, his previous preoccupation has been with the Captives of the Cosmic Web work on the north wall of St John’s Hall Gallery.

During a break necessitated by the restoration work in the gallery over the winter of 2015/16, he has been working on this series of oil paintings. The pictures are about his obsession with place and the power of art to explore new points of view, new ways of seeing.

The fragments of Barmouth and surrounding places, which are the subjects of this collection, are interpreted and observed through planes and facets, the nature of which are sometimes determined by the subject and sometimes not. It is as though the artist is indicating another layer of reality existing invisibly (save to the imagination) side by side with prosaic reality.

This type of visual exploration is consequent on the artist’s fascination with science and in particular the world of particulate physics. We are now aware of the limitations of our perceptions. Billions of elementary particles are passing through us every second, radiation of a wide range of frequencies, most of which are invisible to us, surrounding us, reflecting off us, passing through us at each moment. Dark matter, comprises nine-tenths of the universe, can hardly be detected, save for its gravity. We are brushing shoulders with a largely unknown universe alongside our prosaic present reality.

Barnes says “Humans have long suspected this other world to exist, and have been making up stories about its nature for as far back as language,  I guess.  Elaborate models based on nothing more than wishful thinking have dominated and defined millions of human lives.”

These paintings are making passing reference to these unknowns which accompany all our known. Spaces are mapped and divided, planes are tilted, light appears to be deflected and reflected, in an evocation of the unseeable and the untouchable.

In addition to these influential thoughts, the artist has also been reflecting his interest in neuropsychology, in which new discipline there is a growing understanding of the way the mind builds a private model of the universe, within the private universe of the mind.

The exhibition will be open 11am to 4:30pm every day (except Mondays when closed).

The image featured above is ‘House of Auguste Guyard’ copyright Bernard Barnes.

Announcing Exhibition: Fragments of Barmouth by Bernard Barnes

House of Eduard Guyard copyright Bernard Barnes, oil painting
House of Eduard Guyard copyright Bernard Barnes, oil painting

The Fragments of Barmouth Exhibition of Paintings by Bernard Barnes will be open 11am to 5pm every day (except Mondays when closed), from Saturday 4th June to Friday 30th September 2016. Most of the paintings in this exhibition are recent, painted over the winter while the gallery was closed for restoration work. Read more

Captives of the Cosmic Web book now available from Amazon


Captives of the Cosmic Web (the book about the wall) is a detailed look at the large wall painting in the hall. The book is now available from Amazon.

The work is a description of a large wall painting in St John’s Hall Gallery, Barmouth in North Wales. The work has been painted by artist Bernard Barnes. It is composed of 24 canvases painted in oil paint.

The painting is a modern cosmology, exploring different ideas about the origin of the universe and the place of the human world in it. It is a celebration of rational thought.

There is also a narrative in the picture in which Dante figures, emerging from the underworld. He is guide into the fresh air of rational thought where Beatrice will introduce him to Darwin, DaVinci, Mendelef, Max Plank, Rutherford, Maxwell, Crick and Watson, Bore, Feynman, and so on. Above is Newton, and finally Einstein and the Solvai conference.

The book is for sale through Amazon at the following link:

The Captives of the Cosmic Web

Seeking Volunteers to Help with Giant Puppet Making


During August St John’s Hall Gallery will be busy preparing for the Large Puppet Carnival that will walk through Barmouth on August 26th.
THE CARNIVAL HAS BEEN POSTPONED but we are still looking for volunteers to help with puppet making (more info).

Volunteers are needed during August to help build the large puppets.

Last year’s carnival procession can be seen on YouTube.

We will return to the hall for a day and evening of interesting events – performances and entertainment.

We encourage groups to form and create their own puppet for this event. Let’s get together and make something hum. Come and see what we are doing. Make suggestions. A sort of Madi Gras of large puppets would liven the procession up a bit.

Barmouth Puppet Theatre Project

At the same time we will be running puppet workshops where you or your child may like to help build a puppet theatre, which will perform its play during the carnival. We will make puppets, scenery and the theatre itself. Think of a simple play, write the words, and make the music. The more children and parents come the more puppets we will have to use in the theatre.

Puppet workshops will take place on Thursday and Saturday between 2pm and 4pm.

Cost per person £5

Bring old clothes. We supply all the materials.

Maybe this will become a puppet festival.

Please call in to the gallery for more information or ring 07767862382.

Some details from Gobekli Tepe

I received, with the last post, a copy of Klaus Schmidt’s book on Golbeki Tepe, containing more images of the site than I had seen before. This days painting used a photograph from the image on the cover of the book, of a group of birds.

It is characteristic of a lot of the carvings. Low relief, stylisation, simplicity, the world of a hunter gatherer.


The little reference to this decorated pillar is hung in a structure made from the arbitrary passing particles through the picture plane.


The ’tile’ is hung in a part of the knee along with other blank tiles, which I will endeavour to fill.


In an attempt to create a compendium of all that is known (by me at this time) within the structure of this painting.


At the same time I am trying to introduce the elements of the sleeping figure as figments of a dream, the mythic dream.


As I look at the photographs of the pillars, I have noticed that many of them have strange pits carved into the tops of them. It appears to me that these depressions may have contained ritual oils, burning offerings etc. These outer stones were embedded into a surrounding wall which helped to give access to the top of the stones, from the outside of the inner shrine. Each stone could have been an alter stone, served from outside, perhaps forming a ‘chapel’, to whatever particular deity the stone represented (for each was a figure identified by particular animals and symbols).

The two great inner stones and the surrounding others (often 12 in number) suggest a pantheism to me. Clan cults connected with animals may be in the mix.


When I wandered around Turkey looking at the ancient sites outlined in Mellart’s book ‘the Neolithic of the Middle East’ I visited Chatal Huyuk and Hacilar and saw the major collection in the Ankara museum, and was very struck by the way the story of our beginnings had once again been pushed unbelievable far back, to 7000 BC. It was from studying Mellart’s beautiful book (now in tatters) that I learned the term ‘epi-palaeolithic’ and the possibility of neolithic communities approaching the size of a city.


Now it is evident that complex religious societies had existed during the ice age (we knew that from Lascaux and the magdelanean culture) and when they emerge into our consciousness at Gobekli Tepe they are a complex people with a sophisticated mythology, a mythology we can tantalizingly glimpse as the great stones are unearthed in their virtually pristine state. These people, 5000 years earlier than Chatal Huyuk, were not farmers but hunters, finding themselves living in a time of overflowing resources as the climate of the earth changed from ice to fecundity and forest. Abundant wildlife and wild plants (it is the fertile crescent) may have made living easier, as it did for some neolithic Indian communities in North America who lived beside a fertile sea. Whatever is the truth, these extraordinary ancestors were able to spare time to reflect on the universe, on the great questions of human existence. They formed a world-view, they had a comprehensive way of understanding a capricious universe, and a quasi system for modifying it, probably controlled by a priesthood. The priesthood may have worn a topknot (symbolizing a snake), as many Indian monks do to this day.

Video of the Giant Puppet Procession on the Gallery Open Day

The short video clips are available now to view all the way through on a YouTube playlist:

Thoughts on the Puppet Workshop and the Carnival



  • All the masks to be larger than lifesize, with costumes, enabling humans to be inside.
  • All the characters must be mobile, so that we can form a procession and walk down the street.
  • There will be a series of workshops, announced to the public, where people help to make large papier mache heads. Other people will be involved in sewing the costumes.
  • Collect some ideas for figures

Automatons for publicity

I am trying to design an automaton that could be stood in the street anchored, (temporarily) to a lamp post or telegraph pole. They could be left around the town in various spots, but only for a few days, and then they would be re-tethered elsewhere.
The idea is that these little objects invite a passersby to turn a handle. An unseen mechanism causes a head to arise from the box-like object and at the same time its arms will rise akimbo. A sort of wing like thing can be trailed to the lower edge of the arm, something that folds back into the slot of the box.
At the height of the head, with a lot of neck showing and the arms straight out, there is a click and the handle stops while the head and arms return to folded position back in the box. At the base of the box, near the creature’s feet a little door opens and a printed card is deposited on the floor. It is an advertisement for the gallery.
Feeding this creature with little cards will enable us to see how successful it is being at attracting attention. Outside the box will be brightly and gaily painted.
This is only the prototype. All sorts of variations can be designed.
Stoutly made and firmly tethered, I guess these objects should stand a lot of ware. It will be interesting to see. Care must be taken to see that they cannon cause harm.
In this way, among others, we can arouse interest in the Gallery.
So far I have come up with an idea of how to construct a flat 4’ high box that contains a sliding wooden section with a place for a head. Some of these components are now cut out, but I am designing on the hoof. It is curious to observe the way the mind gophers about inside the gormenghast of our minds and comes up with a bright idea. It is very invigorating to be forced to think outside the box, to enter completely new territory, how to make a crank lift a weight, how to use that lifting to power other processes that may be triggered later. Much can be accomplished with string, pulleys and weights in this respect. The use of rocking bars, cams, counterbalances, springs and so on, are engineering problems that the puppeteer endeavours to manufacture in wood, with a few bars and wheels of metal.
The process requires vision, foresight, not with too much precise, but a goal a nirvana. It depends entirely on our ability to imagine, to throw a world view forward in time, into indeterminate space, and envisage a new reality. That facility, it seems to me, gifts us humans a great power. We can circumnavigate evolution by thinking out the pitfalls, foresee the niches and go for it, for the jugular.
I suppose that there is a selective advantage in having an imagination, just as there is a selective advantage in being, or be susceptible to being, a believer.