Review Me: Barrie Dale: The Spirit of Mysticism
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Friday, April 22, 2022

Barrie Dale: The Spirit of Mysticism

Barrie, I appreciate your time and consideration in this interview. Tell us about your artistic background story and if there was a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as a visual artist?

I have always found much aesthetic interest in everyday life. Also, as a teenager, I knew Trevor Chamberlain, now an established Artist, and he inspired me to paint. But at the same time, I was being inspired equally by the beauties of Science, Mathematics, Music, and Chess; so I have always been split five ways.
My pivotal visual moment came while out painting at dawn on a very misty morning. The rising sun suddenly picked out some chimneys and roofs; and there, just across the fields, was my village, which I thought I knew so well, brightly lit, hanging in the air. This taught me much about beauty, mystery, and the capricious nature of reality.
Science tells us that what we think we see is not what is there; and also that our mere presence changes everything. So visual reality is a never-ending mystery that can be explored forever. This leads us to Paul Cézanne.

Exactly. Barrie, you are a man of science whose art is an integral part of his life. Was there ever a moment of doubt to question your art career entirely?

I have no idea where my ‘art’ comes from. Is it real? Does it signify anything? Will it always be there? Or, one day, will it simply dry up?
My images exist because, at one tiny moment, they were instinctively attractive to me. Does anybody else find them attractive? Why should they? (They are not me).
I am trying to find things that haven’t been seen before. But does anybody care?
Having read many books on the subject, I have no idea what ‘beauty’ means.
So in my images, I seek metaphor rather than beauty. Is this even legitimate?
Is my wide range of interests a blessing or a curse?
I still have all these doubts, but I am still taking photographs - the world is such a beautiful place.

You photograph natural forms and try to show what you really want to say. What is your daily routine when working in your studio?

I always photograph looking into natural light; cloudy days are frustrating.
I work hand-held at high magnification. Every image is abstract. I am interested only in those with instant appeal. I capture them immediately.
A session starts with a detailed, high-magnification scan of the subject. There will be hundreds of abstract images to look at. I will capture very few, if any. After half-an hour I will be exhausted. I down-load the files, and then the slow step begins. Knowing that each image was taken without thinking, I now have to ask ‘why did I find this image instinctively attractive?’. Being suspicious of ‘beauty’, I have to find meaning. ‘This image must have expressed an idea to me; what was it?’. This interpretive activity spans everything from very easy to very difficult. Only when I have found the metaphor is the job finished.
I frequently have problems with insufficient light. I edit my images, but only to the minimum extent. I do not manipulate them. I abhor ‘fakes’.

Climate Change 4 - Global Conflagration

Your images appear so genuine that can cause viewers to feel they are immersed in their surroundings, beyond the senses. Now, take us through your process of making your artworks.

I am celebrating Nature. That is central. My subjects have to be natural forms. They have to be intricate, otherwise, the possibilities would be limited. I have had success with flowers, leaves, and grasses; but Orchids are preferred as they are always available, and stay in flower for months.
At the magnifications I use, the eye is no guide to what might be interesting. I have to choose a subject and then start to explore it. I have no idea what might turn up. I cannot decide to take this or that image. Natural light is forever changing, natural forms develop, so every hour, every day is different. I cannot plan.
I want to access my ‘Inner Self’, minimizing the influence of the rational mind. I do not allow time for thinking before capturing an image - for me, the initial reaction is more honest than the considered one. I am looking for ‘the first fine careless rapture’.

❝Once Beautiful, now Fragile; once Stable, now Erratic; once Assured, now Fearful❞

“The first fine careless rapture”…. What an excellent interpretation! You mention you are interested in challenge and adventure, the mountains, human interactions, human achievement, the state of the Earth, etc. Is there a central concept connecting all your works together or each series or artwork is unique?

My work has to be of Nature. I want it to be new, different, interesting. At normal magnification, much of what could be said about natural forms has already been said; so I work at high magnification. Here everything is unexpected and abstract.
I have to be able to distinguish between good and bad images. I am wary of ‘composition’, ‘balance’, ‘harmony’, since these are subjective. So I rely upon the evidence of metaphor. To me, this means that in the instant I made the capture the image was saying something to me that I agreed with.
I accept that this stance may be indefensible. All I can say is that I am an artist. I produce pictures. This is how I do it. I just hope they are different.
I frequently have problems with insufficient light. I edit my images, but only to the minimum extent. I do not manipulate them. I abhor ‘fakes’.

You superbly express your innermost feelings using metaphors and mysterious natural and visual real scenes. We can also feel there is always something that appears to be glowing in your images. How do you seek and use inspiration for your works?

As far as I am concerned, inspiration is all around me. I love the beauty of the familiar. There are few things that wouldn’t reward closer examination. I am constantly seeking inspiration from great, and also not-so-great, artists. Any artist who has made an honest contribution is worthy of attention.
Anybody who has overcome adversity to achieve something important is also an inspiration.

You do know how to attract and engage your viewers’ thoughts. What are your art influences?

My earliest influence, as I said earlier, was Trevor Chamberlain. He started me off and taught me what a wonderful colour grey is.
My three major influences are Turner, Monet, and Cézanne.
Turner showed us, in his watercolours, what a magical, spiritual place the Earth is.
Monet showed us what a wonderful gift a good pair of eyes is, and also transported us into spirituality.
Cézanne, with incandescent honesty, showed us that expressing reality in paint may be beyond us, but that that shouldn’t prevent us from trying.


Barrie, come with me to the past art era. If you could meet one of your ideal artists from the past, who would it be and what will you ask about?

I would like to meet Cézanne. I would like to ask him what he would have done next had he lived another half life-time.

Your enthusiasts evoke a whole range of emotions in your artworks. Any upcoming works or future projects you would like to share with our readers?

As far as future work is concerned I would hope to be like Cézanne. He stumbled along, following his nose, painting the same things over and over again, finding new puzzles at every turn. Robert Hughes surmised that Cézanne was asking himself ‘Is This What I Am Seeing?’ My question would be ‘Is This The Message I am Seeing?’
You can’t plan to have an unexpected revelation; you can only be open to one.
I don’t aim to be in control; I aim only to be receptive.
I hope to be exhibiting with the Guild Society of Artists in the Spring.
Beyond that, I want to see where the various Biafarin initiatives lead to.

Thanks a million for taking the time and making us familiar with your luminous art and ideas. I am also looking forward to visiting your brilliant works in numerous future exhibitions. We definitely try to do our best. We wish you the best, Barrie.

This interview ends here. We hope that you enjoyed reading this inspiring interview with Barrie.
If you want to ask your own questions, please write to us now.

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