Banbridge-based artist, Tommy Barr, has recently returned from Vichy in France, where he was guest of honour at the Boz’art Festival of Art and Culture.
This is the first year that festival organisers have chosen to invite a guest of honour and so it has been a great privilege for Tommy.
The festival features a diverse program of musical events, site visits, conferences and classes alongside a residency of international and French artists.
Artists at the residency work in an open studio where dignitaries, press, groups and members of the public are able to visit and watch the development of paintings and interact with the artists. This kept the studio buzzing and also provided an amusing challenge for everyone trying to follow conversations in an array of different languages.
As part of the guest of honour’s invitation, Tommy was asked to present the first exhibition of his current project “The first years of agreement” in the Chateaux du Bost. These works use local and national motifs and images to reflect on the changes to everyday life in Northern Ireland since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
Tommy was delighted with how the exhibition was received and particularly enjoyed explaining and discussing the paintings with visiting groups of students.
“Our progress towards peace is clearly of great interest internationally,” said Tommy.
On the final day of the festival Tommy hosted the guest of honour’s tea party. This allowed him to contribute something back into the Festival and provided an informal setting where everyone involved could relax and reflect on their many memories from the past events.
The party lead up to the final exhibition presenting the works created during the residency.
This was officially opened by the Mayor of Bellerive sur Allier.
The Festival is already highly acclaimed and this year was considered a particular success, however it is also a very significant undertaking and preparations for next year are already underway.
Tommy has left with many great memories and inspiration which will fuel his new work for some time. He believes the artists invited next year will be fortunate indeed.
For Tommy this festival was particularly well designed with a good mix of studio time, events and excursions. He put the free time to very good use working on preparatory sketches for his next trip, as an invited artist at the 2014 Dublin Biennial this June.