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The early art of Northern Ireland is rich in the highly distinctive motifs which characterise the Celtic style. Central to this was the tendency to express ideas by symbol. This premeditated abstraction resulted in the curious, beautiful (and occasionally grotesque) icons that are the foundation of art in the Province.

To this day Northern Ireland remains steeped in these icons. From the ancient standing stones to the highly charged graffiti of Belfast, they are embroidered into the fabric of society and brandished from almost every street corner. They have provided a potent outlet for our creative expression and unique sense of identities. 

Painting in this hot-spot, my icons owe much to legacy. I work with everyday motifs, confronting my issues via abstraction which frequently draws upon the Celtic heritage. In line with much of today's art, my work owes a debt to recent artistic movements. Many are easily discernible and I have not sought to disguise their influences. 

However, my challenge is always to retain both the disorder and the potency of the early icons and to speak in our native tongue. It is by setting this loyalty to tradition alongside sensitivity to the place where I find myself each day that I feel able to create original art. To make each icon a personal statement which I hope you will find interesting, curious, beautiful (and only occasionally grotesque).

All the best
Tommy
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"Barr’s paintings, even at their most somber, are reminders of the capability of art to make time stand still”.
Mary Sherman
President Transcultural Exchange
USA