New art inspired by the Refugee Crisis

Bernard Barnes and Reyna Rushton will be working in the gallery as their studio space as usual during October. See them working on their latest pieces inspired by the refugee crisis (read more). Also work by Alyosha Barnes.

Paintings and Prints by Jon George

The exhibition will be of paintings and prints by Jon George, some scenes local to the gallery (such as the Bath House, Barmouth seen below).

The exhibition will be open 11am to 4:30pm every day (except Mondays when closed). The private view for this exhibition is at 7:30pm on Saturday 3rd September.

About the artist

Jon George was born in 1944 in Barrow-in-Furness, a shipbuilding town in Cumbria. He studied fine art at Falmouth 1965-68 specialising in painting, following his own wish to refer increasingly to landscape and other aspects of the seen world. Jon says:

“I questioned the place and purpose of art and its contribution to society and in this respect became interested in printmaking for its socialistic values.”

Print copyright Jon George
Bath House Cafe, Barmouth, Wales. screen-print 66x49cm (26″x20″)

Later he developed his own kind of block-printing method, which he calls Castprinting. Jon is running a workshop at the gallery on how to do Castprinting (see separate post).

In 1980 Jon was a founder member of a group of artists who took over an old factory in East London to convert it into studios by their own hands, and they are still there today.

Print copyright Jon George
‘Vine’, photo-castprint 57x68cm (23″x27″)

Artist’s statement

As a landscape painter I recognize that I am in pursuit of beauty and believe that, in itself, this is worthy enough an object in my art. However, alongside this is another need to observe truthfully those things, due to human activity, that disturb the beauty and constantly threaten it. So my art aims to take both elements to create a balanced view of reality. The act of being in the natural environment and spending time drawing it in the field is crucial to my belief. Between seeing and the drawn rendering of pencil to paper comes a personal, poetic change due to interpretation, which is not self conscious.

My paint media of choice is egg tempera, which I took up when needing a quick drying paint but it proved to be much more than that – delicate, subtle, and translucent with colour so pure. Again from the drawings to the making of paintings or prints in the studio come another contemplation and the application of colour and ideas, which is now conscious and inventive.

More information about Jon George:

Print copyright Jon George
‘Baranyini’, hand-castprint 50×56 cm (20.5″x23″)

A Celebration of the Meirionnydd Landscape

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

About the Exhibition

This exhibition includes paintings by Clyde Homes and Bernard Barnes (resident artist) inspired by the Meirionnydd landscape, and there will be screenings of ‘Meirionnydd, a very special place‘, a short film featuring beekeeping in this beautiful county. The film is produced by Greengage films.

The exhibition will be open every day 11am to 4:30pm except for Mondays when the gallery is closed.

About Meirionnydd

Meirionnydd is a coastal and mountainous region of Wales,and was a sub-kingdom of Gwynedd, founded, according to legend, by Meirion (or Marianus). The kingdom lay between the River Mawddach and the River Dovey, spreading in a north-easterly direction. For more information see Wikipedia.

Clyde Holmes

ClydeFeatureClyde Holmes was born in London. His father was a Londoner who worked for the Royal Mail and his mother, who was Polish, worked in a factory. Clyde spent two years working as a session musician for various bands before going to study fine art at Hornsey College of Art and St Martin’s School of Art from 1965 to 1968. He then got a job at the British Library working with blind people until he made the decision to leave London in search of a more rural life.

In 1970, Clyde searched for a place in north Wales that would feed his imagination and inspire his work. He found a remote Snowdonia farmhouse that had been abandoned in 1947, when the house was covered in snow and the resident farmer lucky to escape with his life. But Clyde felt it was the perfect place, and during the ensuing decades, the area became a home to him and his family and very much part of who he was.

img-4847 (1280x844)This isolated and unspoilt location has been described by Clyde as an ‘island’, a pocket of wilderness that survives against the human desire to build, cultivate and control. The uplands inspired both his painting and his poetry.

Clyde’s paintings were concerned with expressing the mystery and power of the wilder aspects of the landscape – of which he believed we are all part. Clyde tried to communicate the mood swings of Snowdonia through cloud-shadow, wind and light working off one another, that constant flux of light and shadow. The traditional landscape view may be cropped and aspects zoomed in on, to explore their abstract potential.

Clyde’s work featured in BBC2’s Visions of Snowdonia (1997) and is represented at the Victoria & Albert Museum, MOMA Wales and the National Library of Wales. His final collection, Watermarks, which was Arts Council-funded, comprises oil paintings comparing the “lakescapes” of Finland and Wales.

img-4818 (1280x849)During his life Clyde published four poetry collections which portrayed his love of the landscape and wildlife, and Guardian First Book award winner Robert Macfarlane chose Skywalls (1998) to represent Snowdonia in a 2005 Guardian article mapping nature, from south to north. But above all, Clyde’s poetry was a celebratory act arising from his passion and concern for the rare birds, plants and insects that lived all around him.

Clyde Holmes died in May 2008 aged 67.

More information about Clyde Holmes:

Greengage Films

Greengage Films is an independent production company based in Mid Wales, the dedicated team provide oustanding films for internet and broadcast purposes. The company work closely with ethically minded organizations including NGOs and charities, providing them with the opportunity to use the powerful tool of moving imaging to promote their work

greengage1After graduating in fine art, Malka worked as a photographer for RTL television in Germany, then went on to assist the environmental and wildlife photographer David Woodfall. She then specialised in moving imaging. After breaking into the TV industry working on various programmes, including Time Team(C4), Climate Chaos(BBC4) and Iolos Welsh Safari(BBC wales) it became apparent that Malka wanted to work closer to the subject she was filming. She started volunteering for NGO’s and charities including the London Wildlife Trust and the RSPB, getting her hands dirty digging, hedge laying and fulfilling other tasks required. From this the seed for Greengage Films has grown.

More information about Greengage Films:

Reyna Rushton Exhibition at the Treehouse Aberystwyth in August

The six paintings below by Reyna Rushton will be on exhibition at the Treehouse in Aberystwyth in August (on the top floor). Please click on the images to see larger.

Original oil painting copyright Reyna Rushton

Original oil painting copyright Reyna Rushton

Announcing: Summer Exhibitions 23 May to 16 August 2015 at St Johns Hall Gallery


Bernard Barnes – City as Superorganism

Saturday 23 May – Sunday 16 August 2015
Gallery open every day 11am – 5pm

This exhibition and the accompanying book are the result of an idea that occurred to Barnes when he was teaching in a North Wales Art College. On his desk were two pictures. They are here at the beginning of this exhibition. One is a diagram of a living eukaryote cell , the other is the excavated ground plan of a Neolithic Greek settlement. Their similarities in form and function played on his mind as he went for a night walk above the iron locks in Cheshire where his boat was moored at the time. Suddenly in the darkness he found himself looking down on Chester at night. It was like looking down on a giant amoeba, dynamic, hot, noisy.

These coincidental observations set him thinking along lines that have produced several large exhibitions of paintings with this show in St Johns Hall Gallery as the latest in a series. Now there is the book which this exhibition displays.


Robert Perry – Pictures of the Black Country and Wales

Saturday 23 May – Sunday 16 August 2015
Gallery open every day 11am – 5pm

Robert Perry is a landscape painter who uses a combination of traditional and unorthodox techniques. He works exclusively on location, in oils, gouache and mixed drawing media from his unique “mobile studio workshop” (a purpose converted Renault Trafic van). His works are in both private and national collections in Britain, Germany and France and are featured in “BBC Your Paintings. Uncovering the nation’s art collection, in partnership with PCF (Public Catalogue Foundation)”.

This exhibition is of landscapes of the Black Country and Wales. Given the strong connection between Barmouth and the West Midlands, we believe this subject matter will resonate with many of our summer visitors. Born, brought up and educated in the industrial zone of the English West Midlands, known since the Industrial Revolution as “The Black Country”, Perry’s exposure to its culture of hard work, engineering, problem solving and craftsmanship has profoundly influenced the development of his working practice and methods.

Robert Perry and his mobile “Field Studio” on site near Jenlain, Northern France
Robert Perry and his mobile “Field Studio” on site near Jenlain, Northern France

“For me, drawing/painting is simply a kind of lens which both enables and stimulates me to study the world in greater depth. The resulting images/pictures are merely a by-product, and not an end in themselves” he writes in An Artist’s Diary (an account of a trip to the Somme Battlefields Winter 2000).

There is an account on his website of his trip to Barmouth in November 2014 when he produced some of the pictures that are in this exhibition. The trip was sadly marred by vehicle problems and then followed a bout of illness, but there is a happy ending to the tale.

Day three, building a frame for monoprinting on canvas


Monoprinting is a technique for creating a beautiful line on canvas and paper. It requires drawing on the back of the picture surface so that the line is pressed against an inked or painted surface. The resulting line is often very beautiful and quite unlike the link of line produced by a brush or a pen. It often picks up slight texture around the line which gives it a unique quality.

It is not a technique that is easy to use with canvas, the cloth must be quite thinly woven, and must be held at a slight distance from the painted board.  I have never heard of it being used for a canvas as large as the ones planned for the hall ceiling, and so some experiments must be tried.

st johns hall, flat ceiling panels

The 8 large ceiling panels in St Johns Hall Gallery.

Work has been begun on the painting of the 8 flat ceiling panels in the old hall. There are technical difficulties in making 12′  x  6′ panels that hang facing downwards, or at a steep angle. I can’t paint these as canvases on normal strechers, they would sag. The canvas has to be stuck onto a board, and fastened somehow into place.

Therefore I have begun the process in making the three 4′ x 6′ panels that make up a single 12′ length. Here is a photograph of the three panels side by side on the floor of the studio.


The three framed MDF boards side by side will make a single 12′ x 6′ panel to go into one bay. Here is an image of where it will eventually go.


I have used computer trickery to add a drawing of one of the mythic dreamers who will fit into the bay, although the order is not yet decided.

st johns hall, flat ceiling panels
The 8 panels in St johns Hall.

There are eight of these great spaces in the hall, well above eye level, so that the art work in the galleries will not be affected.


You can just about see the eight spaces in this picture.

I have described the basic idea of the mythic dreamer in a previous post, but the overall concept is to use these pictures to explore the diversity of myth and symbolism among the large branches of homosapiens. In this way the ideas of these panels links to the work of the large painting ‘captives of the cosmic web’.

I intend to use a single large canvas to cover these boards, but the problem us compounded by my wish to approach the painting as a monoprint which will be turned over to be painted. More on that later.

B.Barnes 27/09/2014

Mythic dreamers, mythic images, some ideas for the next stage in the wall paintings.

For many years, since a major show in Plas Glyn Y Weddw back in 1989 entitled ‘City as Parasite’, I have been returning to the theme of ‘The Mythic Dreamer’. They all (there have been about 8 of these paintings so far) depict a sleeping figure whose body is full of compartments. In each space there is an image drawn from a wide range of myths, so that the sleeping figure has become a composite of myths. A dreamer of cultural dreams.


The idea originated as an image of the sleeping city, taking Carl Jung’s idea that an individual dreams in dreams, a culture dreams in myths. What myths does a city dream? as it winds down from the day? It withdraws its population of busy workers from the stomachs of the city (the markets), it closes its offices and factories, the commercial centres empty as the population returns to their homes.

Here the talking starts, stories are told of the day’s events. News, rumour, hearsay, gossip and speculation begin their journey in the city’s nervous system. Knots of friends gather in pubs and restaurants in noisy gabbles and boozy laughter. The nervous system of the city is made of these streams of quicksilver sound passing from mouth to ear, from mind to mind. Families sit around tables recounting their experiences, building pictures of sound about who said what to who, who did what, what so and so thought, how they felt.

Then the entertainment begins. The televisions are turned on, so that the big rumours, the big stories pour out into the rooms, into the minds. Chat shows mull over and reflect upon the themes. Actors play parts, adopt roles, become characters, act adventures and the dreaming begins. By the thousand the great population, staring at the screens, all feel sorrow, excitement, pain and pleasure at the same time. The city is dreaming.

Crowds begin to flow towards the bright centres of the nervous system. In theatres and cinemas masses of minds are filled in unison with tragedy, with comedy, love stores, ancient sagas. Old themes are retold in an infinity of new forms; the old myths of the hero, the beauty who changes the frog into a prince, the terror in the night.

Masses gather in stadiums to watch 22 men struggle against each other over possession of a small ball, in a valiant struggle of skill and courage to achieve victory over an enemy. The thousands of spectators share the struggle, every kick of the way, engaged with their eyes and their mouths, roaring and sighing as one great superorganism.

Games of chess between two people act out these dramas. Musical gatherings feel their emotions transported as one. Political meetings pass thoughts around. Religious gatherings recount the old myths of salvations and transcendence.

The city is full of dreams, of heroes, of beauties, of tragedies, of fearful monsters. All the old themes are recounted in a thousand new ways.

Until finally the city closes down, the people return to their homes, take to their beds and fall asleep, where the process begins again in each mind.

These were the thoughts that led me to begin the series of paintings I call ‘Mythic Dreamers’. Each one is a painting of a community, a culture, a race.

Lately I have been working on a picture that reflects the dreams of a specific culture, the palaeolithic world of Gubekli Tepe. Here I have filled the sleeping figure with myths drawn from the extraordinary ancient temples now being unearthed in Turkey, near the Syrian border. It incorporates images taken from the great carved stones, each one of which represents a monolithic standing figure. It is possible that the images we are familiar with in the horoscope came through these ancient people. Some images suggest a connection with early vedic religious ideas, others link with palaolithic ancestors, for these temples are 10,000 years old and take the story of human culture almost back to the ice age.


I have decided to begin a great series of these pictures for the ceiling of the gallery in St Johns Hall, to complement the large wall painting of the ‘Captives of the Cosmic Web’ on the north wall. By selecting some of the major myths of mankind, the series of 8 panels, each measuring 10’ by 6’ will fill the flat areas of the roof below the curved upper section, and reflect the multitude of forms the human race has produced to explain and give meaning to the universe it finds itself in.

microwave background radiation

COBE All-Sky Map

The cosmic microwave background radiation is a remnant of the Big Bang. These minute temperature variations (depicted here as varying shades of blue and purple) are linked to slight density variations in the early universe. These variations are believed to have given rise to the structures that populate the universe today: clusters of galaxies, as well as vast, empty regions.


I intend to set the 8 huge sleeping figures against a representation of the extraordinary new maps that have been made of the magnetic background radiation of the universe. These maps are based on subtle variations in the cosmic microwave background radiation.

So far my planning lists the following 8 mythic dreamers, they have been selected to reflect some of the major cultural, religious and literary themes of humanity. I have jotted down a list of ideas connected with each dreamer as they occurred to me, but each one will require a great deal of research and image gathering.

  1. Gubekli tepe,  palaeolithic people, the horoscope, first farmers, the shaman, the goddess
  1. The Greek myth, the pantheon, the male god, the mysteries, the underworld, the shades, baccus, pythagorus, Plato,Aristotle, Alexander, Homer, black figure ware, red figure ware, the sculpture of ancient Greece. Philosophy, theatre. Greek linguistic characters.


This painting entitled ‘Greek Wall’ contains an assortment of images from different periods of Greek art. It is not a ‘Mythic Dreamer’ painting but contains some ideas which might be used.

  1. The semitic myth. Jewish, Arabic, Christian, monotheism, abstraction, mogal art, calligraphic art, the written work, the book, Hebrew and Arabic script, the scroll, prayer rugs, carpets, synagogues, cathedrals, mosques.
  1. The vedic myth, the Ramayana, Buddhism, the wheel of life, vedic geometry, astrology,


Not a Mythic Dreamer painting, but containing thoughts on the development of Indian art.

  1. The Nordic, Germanic, Frankish, English, American , the hero, the sword, iron, fire, the crow, conquest, Viking, Sutton hoo, voyaging, exploring, colonising, possessing, categorising, war, technology, computers, skyscrapers, air travel, science, industry, nuclear, learning, medicine, space travel, power.
  1. The eastern myth, the yellow people, Chinese, Japanese, Confucian, Shinto, pottery, calligraphy, Eskimo, north American Indian, Peking man, ceramics, closoni, jade,
  1. City of the plains, the ziggurats, Egypt, Sumeria, Babylon, Mohenjo Dharo, City states, irrigation, priesthood, human sacrifice, marriage of god and goddess, man gods, pharaohs, mass control, slavery, temple complex, chariots.
  1. The Celtic myths, the sacred grove, nature gods, intertwining pattern, knots, riddles, druids, the mabinogion, the book of kells, the red book of hergest, talking heads, bran.

These are early jottings as they occurred to me in the heat of new ideas. I am working out simultaneously the technical problems of creating such large and complex images, how they can be painted in the studio, how they will be fixed in place so that they can be later removed, how the canvas will not sag on the sloping surface. My mind is in a furnace of ideas and no doubt there will be huge changes made to these initial jottings. As things develop, I will keep the blog informed.

Bernard Barnes. September 16th 2014.

Paintings by Reyna Rushton, one of the two resident artists

Painting in grey hues with a figure in the centre
Memories of Spain, Oil on Canvas

Reyna Rushton is one of the two resident artists at St Johns Hall Gallery. Her work on exhibition is a series of pictures dealing with important themes, which use archetypal stories or images that reflect the human condition.

“I have attempted to hold a balance between the stylized iconographic approach (the general) and images drawn from my own personal environment (the particular),” she says. “I am also interested in exploring from a technical and aesthetic point of view, ways of breaking up the flat smooth canvas surface to reflect the complex nature of the visual world.”

The pieces on display are available for sale and the prices are listed in the exhibition catalogue, ranging from £100 to £450.

A selection of images in the exhibition