My art focus for the last few months has been intense on Flight, Fight, Freedom/Fences and Burnt Offerings.
“Burnt Offerings” being a theme which I have been exploring for many months, in collaboration with dear Johnson Zuze, as he and I discussed the idea of a co-exhibition called “Burnt Offerings” after realizing the fact of our mutually experienced house fires, losses and re-inventions….
A Phoenix installation from many years ago which i rescued from my house fire, waiting to be re-invented…
This below is one of the burnt wooden bird sculptures which I rescued from my own house fire, which I gave to Johnson to re-invent…a phoenix rising from the ashes, a ‘burnt offering”… we liked the idea of “re-inventing”, “resurrecting” it…….. much like a phoenix.
Lin, Burnt Bird:
“Freedom” is so inspiring, a natural progression of thought reflecting my feelings of re-invention, taking flight, to combat boundaries real and perceived….
….to combat the trauma of life, fire, physical and emotional battles and constraints….
is an elusive state
not only by physical boundaries
but by your mind…
Freedom and Fences- a theme personified by the iconic deadwoods that were historically the boundaries for cattle paddocks and dips, during the rise of subsidized cattle ranching which took over vast areas of traditional wildlife areas, and before the replacement of these very posts to again make way for wildlife….. boundaries and land use, flux and flow, freedom and restraint……..
Fire is the only threat to these ‘indestructible’ lead woods, a devastating force,
I like to harness the force of fire in making my own charcoal for sketches….
Painting Shells, Fire, Painting Water, are elemental satisfactions for me…
Lin Barrie, “Water…”, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 180 cm
Lin Barrie, “Fire…”, acrylic on canvas , 120 x 180 cm,
the elemental power of fire will always draw me……….
Lin Barrie, What I Saw in the Fire, quartet,acrylic on stretched canvas-each 30 x 30 cm
and I ruminate on the force of fire, as a cleansing and as a destructor…
I have draped a large canvas, reminiscent of what I see when I stare into fire, into flames, whereupon I take flight or contemplate fight……..
Lin Barrie, Fire; Fight or Flight?, acrylic on draped canvas Height 184 cm Width 275 cm Width to point 435 cm
The “Winged Victory”, that stunning hellenic statue of Nike, Goddess of Victory, is the epitome of freedom, of rising to victory….
Winged Victory, Nike I, and II, are acrylic and charcoal on stretched canvas, each 42 x 30 cm (A3)
Taking flight, my abstraction of that universal Swoosh symbol, the Nike flash, Winged Victory, Nike, a diptych, is acrylic on stretched canvas, each 42 x 30 cm …… is it a bird in flight or a swoosh?! …..either way it is a symbol of FREEDOM!
Born of Fire, my painting “Winged Victory” is growing…acrylic/charcoal on stretched canvas 4 x 3 feet….
Winged Victory; Beyond Beyonce, will be an acrylic/charcoal/collage installation on stretched/draped canvas inspired by the marks of sparks and fire on canvas, creativity and creation… Size 4 x 3 feet plus ‘wings’
..listen to music from such as Hope Masike on Mbira, watch art memories from the past, feel the hopes for the future…..
Zimbabwe has lost Helen Lieros…
Artist of Africa, Artist of Zimbabwe…
Zimbabwe has also lost Derek Huggins….
Derek Huggins, life force and creator of Gallery Delta, supporter of the Arts and Humanities
Zimbabwe, and the whole art world, has lost two iconic people who will be deeply missed but always so fondly remembered.
At this tragically sad time I hold the memories of Derek’s deep humanity and Helen’s huge creative force close to my heart, from my house in the bush in Zimbabwe.
Surrounded by the indigenous aloes and dramatic skies of our beloved Zimbabwe, as I sit in my wilderness home, I will ruminate and celebrate the passionate, caring and deeply colourful life that was theirs …
All my thoughts are with the Lieros and Huggins families, their dear friends and closest associates, and all of my fellow artists who mourn with me.
Helen and Derek, founders of Gallery Delta and icons of the arts in Zimbabwe and far far beyond, you were, and are, universally loved.
May your legacies live on in all our artistic and humanitarian endeavours.
Fly high dear friends.
I dedicate this painting to your memory, Helen.
“Emergence” is a painting that I worked on a few months ago- my personal reflection on the energizing chats and art meetings we have had in the last year, dear Helen…..
You helped me to feel that I was emerging, coming out and re-inventing my self, finding myself, with a renewed and sound basis for my art practice.
You inspired me.
You still inspire me.
You have helped me to a new-found feeling of ‘flying high’ …
I have always collected fallen feathers, and have been drawing feathers, birds, winged forms and flight obsessively …..
I have just realized how influenced I have been in my subconscious by Nike, the winged Greek Goddess of Victory. She has been gentle in the back of my mind all these years and has resurfaced with a vengeance!
Almost like emerging from a cocoon, my mind embraces the thought of wings, feathers, flight….
A wooden vulture sculpture by the talented Zimbabwean Zata Brothers presides over my workspace, informing my subconscious, watchfully influencing my mark making….
The concept grows, as I create mono prints which seem to take on their own persona, their own life, unfolding their wings, re-inventing themselves and arising from the ashes, emerging from the trials of life….
Immortalised in the marble sculpture found on the island of Samothrace, my intense focus now rests on a marble statue portraying Nike the goddess, called “Winged Victory” and portraying a woman in delicate yet powerful flowing robes, wings outstretched as if just landing, or just taking off…
Since learning about her in Art History classes at Art College, years and years ago, I have been conscious of her powerful presence, although I have never seen her in real life, as she stands in the Louvre…one day….
She epitomizes the concept of Flight and Freedom in my mind, (and Fight as well… she seems not shy of gaining Victory, a powerful force!)
To persevere, re-invent oneself, take flight against all odds, is my mantra.
I am working towards my personal theme, “Burnt Offerings”, in collaboration with friend and talented fellow Zimbabwean artist, Johnson Zuze. Wire artist and creator of fantastic beasts from found objects, Johnson’s re-cycled art is at once intricate and bold, at once aesthetically pleasing and socially cutting……
He himself has always been fascinated by the theme of the phoenix myth, wings, flight, birds and I am the proud owner of this delightful bird re-created by him for me after the original got damaged in my house fire…..read more on that here
Some of my saved ‘Burnt Offerings” are – you guessed it, (returning always to my theme of flight), wooden bird sculptures!
Charred, scarred and damaged but with strong spirit still, waiting to be re-invented…. here is one of my treasured burnt birds that I have passed on to Johnson, for him to raise from the ashes… a phoenix or a Nike winged goddess in the making….
Over the last few months my themes of Flight, Rebirth, are growing on canvas, such as this one called “Emergence”, which was painted before I began sketching Winged Victory, and eerily echoes her mood…
And a theme of natural world shapes and fire is translating into Winged Victory on this large canvas…
How special to have you all, dear family and friends, together in person and together “online”!!…
in this wonderful place called Gonarezhou – Sacred Place of Elephants…
for a few days of surprise celebrations for Clives 70th birthday…
The Chilojo Cliffs, viewed from the picnic site, are a fitting backdrop to the most special occasions…
and always inspiration for my art..plus the perfect place to gather with friends…..
A few days of glorious vistas and surprises roll out….
Clive cutting the first of his cakes at Chilojo Picnic Site-a carrot cake created by dear friend Bronwen…
Our daughter Kelli presides over the goodies and gift table at Chilojo!
Painted Wolf Wines, Jeremy Emma and Amanda, sadly could not be with us at the last , but gifted us some bottles of their delicious wine for the day.
So many friends from all over the world and within Zimbabwe who wanted to come, had indeed already booked to come, have failed to do so for various covid and logistical reasons.
Best wishes and so much love come to you, Clive, from Texas to Cape Town, London to Paarl, Kenya to Hoedspruit !
Childhood friend Alan Sparrow spends quiet time with Clive back at our bush house in Save valley Conservanvy, after the camping trip
This sculpture, given to Clive by Stu and Sue Danks of Stone Dynamics Gallery, sums up the deep sense of family and friendship we all enjoy, titled “Support System”
On the day, many many friends here in Zimbabwe , too numerous to mention in this short speech, who can not be with us, have sent Clive messages, to add to his memory book.
My gift to Clive is a magnificent Rhino sculpture by dear friend Wayne Stutchbury…
My list of thanks to everyone who has made this celebration possible is lengthy- so I will have to be brief and mention just a few of the many who have helped plan this surprise:
Gonarezhou National Park, (GCT), Hugo and Elsabe Van Der Westhuizen and Mr Mpofu and staff for your vision, conservation ethics and enthusiasm, (plus efficient bookings and logistics- for bundles of firewood, tables and pots donated for the party).
Hugo’s words to guests on the day were a revelation to many- the ongoing efforts and planning that have resulted in the iconic reintroduction of black rhinos to gonarezhou were enthralling for us all to understand.
Gorgeous Massasanya Dam was one of the venues for guests to camp at, in preparation for Clive’s surprises…
Thanks to Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge who hosted happy guests at gorgeous Chilo lodge on the Save River … in preparation for the event.
Chilo brought our dear friends and precious staff through the stunning wilderness of Gonarezhou National Park, on Clive’s special day..
The Chilo team and John Feleni of the Jamanda Conservation Area had special sightings, viewing lions and African wild dogs en route, to join us at Chipinda with truckfuls of food, cake and love!
wild dogs were seen on the banks of the Runde and Save River- a delight…
Dear Bonani and head chef Peter Chauke pulled the chilo team together through thick and thin to make this day a success.
Chef Susie’s cake:
Fun to cut and a delight to eat!
Thanks to Malilangwe and the people of Malilangwe who have always been trusted friends and dear neighbours to Clive, who roamed those lone star/ Malilangwe hills throughout his childhood.
Mark Saunders honours Clive with his words ..
And a great framed photo gifted from Mark Saunders- memories of camping trips with Clive at mahove camp, hosted by Chilo Gorge
Thanks to Save Valley Conservancy, beloved home to our family, thanks to them for their consistent support and friendship through the many years they have been established.
Thanks to Glenn and Judy and our grandchildren Jade And Rayne and to our daughter Kelli for their unending support and love for Clive
Thanks to All other friends and family too numerous to list but all who have contributed to the success of today…you are all deeply loved and appreciated
Rowan Martin came from afar on dodgy tyres, to play the bagpipes for Clive…
As did Sean Davy, with his beloved Mum Mo, and his sweet “clan” of girls, to celebrate and play “Happy Birthday” on his bagpipes…
He played below those atmospheric Chiwonga Hills, a wonderful moody setting…
Friends young and old made memories for a lifetime…
Much food was eaten around many campfires, lots of fun…and leftover sadza with relish tasted even better straight out the pots, reheated the night after the party….
This area of the South East lowveld of Zimbabwe has forever been a haven for Clive, way before it was designated as a National Park.
Clive’s earliest childhood memories are of family fishing expeditions down this very Runde River behind us.
Clive says of his childhood;:
“Our anticipation was high at the outset of these family trips, and when we would finally reach the range of these hills known as the Chiwongas, we children, bouncing about in the back of our old truck, would be in an agony of delight, knowing that we had nearly arrived at our fishing grounds!
70 years later here is Clive setting up a braai at the tented camp, below these same hills….
Early one morning here at the tented camp, Clive and I rose to the orchestra of Giant Eagle owls and pearl spotted owelets going to bed and ground hornbills, Spurfowl and guinea fowl waking up.
Loud, snorting bloats of hippos serenaded us as drank our Zimbabwean coffee and watched the light dawn behind these same Chiwongas.
Clive later said to me that it reminded him of the verse in David: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my power”
Clive’s whole life, his whole power, has been dedicated to wilderness and community conservation here in the South East Lowveld. Clive has seen communities translocated to make way for wildlife, he has seen wildlife translocated to make way for cattle, and again he has seen cattle translocated to make way for wildlife! Clive has seen rhino go extinct twice in his lifetime here in the Gonarezhou. It seems fitting that we celebrate his birthday right here at Chipinda Pools In the heart of the new rhino protection zone in Gonarezhou, as rhino reintroductions from Malilangwe, Bubye and Save Valley Conservancy are taking place
Thank you all for helping to make this surprise for Clive such a success!
This ongoing interrogation into concepts of borders has not, so far, been straightforward. This is not surprising, like any contemplation of ideas of consequence (I don’t mean mine…), there are never simple answers, and the more you look, the more daunting it becomes. Even at a very shallow face value, answering questions such as “should national borders exist?” (yes, sometimes, no…), demands that you take some position. And it’s unlikely, that with any iota of thought, that one might land on Lennon’s Imagine stance with anything other than an immature drifting through lala-land. Maybe I’m just not “dreamer” enough. It seems reasonable, that if you have a nation-state, and that you have a functional relationship with the mechanisms and structures that maintain its workings and ideologies, then you also have something to defend, and some form of…
‘I create art using items of urban junk that collect from street corners and land fills. I give them new existence and present them with a lively presence beyond their primary use into poetic dimension.I learn how to handle tools from my father who used to make kitchen and hardware products using wire like iron stands, cuphookes etc. My early works were mainly made of wire. My interest in up-cycling was sparked after the burning down of our house in 2009.I scrouged through the remains and expressed my self in time of desolation. I came up with a piece called “The Beautiful Struggle” which earned me a runner up accolade on the occasion” Unity” an exhibition and competition sponsored by European union hosted at gallery Delta in Harare Zimbabwe in 2009′.
Johnson Zuze, friend, artist, calligrapher with wire and found objects- a true visionary and master of art……
Read his poem below about this original piece “The Beautiful Struggle”, created with salvaged pieces after Johnson’s apocalyptic house fire in 2009.
Life’s a beautiful struggle. People search through rubble for a suitable hustle, some people usin’ the noodle, some people usin’ the muscle Some people put it all together, make it fit like a puzzle.
Well, now to my story…
in the strangest synergy, at the Unity Exhibition at The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in 2009 where I was also exhibiting, I bought Johnson’s “Beautiful Struggle” – not realizing its history and provenance, and not knowing Johnson. To put it simply, the sculpture just spoke to me and entranced my daughter, Kelli Barker, and we had to have it. We just had an escaped land clearing/bushfire rage through and mostly destroy our Senuko Lodge in the Savé Valley Conservancy (also in 2009!).
The piece hung in pride of place in my Harare house/art studio, until it was destroyed a few years later in our own house fire, that started upstairs electrically after some crazy huge power surges from the local electricity supply authority. The flames destroyed Kelli’s bedroom and all her possessions, and raged throughout the house, until brought under control by wonderful friends and neighbours at Borrowdale Brooke Golf Estate. “Beautiful Struggle” was burnt, as was most of my own art and furniture, but wonderful rescuers on the day retrieved various precious burnt pieces and I stored these items, since they meant too much to me to just throw onto a landfill.
Johnson has now revived and reincarnated this piece for us, revealed below!
The Beautiful Struggle re-incarnated…
Most of my own art and furniture was destroyed in that fire, but wonderful rescuers on the day retrieved various precious burnt pieces and I stored these items, since they meant too much to me to just throw onto a landfill. Here is a vulture, ground hornbill or what you will, one of my favourite wooden sculptures attacked by that fateful fire….ready to take flight again, to rise like a phoenix!
My journey has echoed much of the perseverance, the need to re-define boundaries, to take flight, to re-invent and re-juvenate my art, my thoughts, after the various fires in my life, physical and metaphorical!
Developing my thoughts on flight, I take as a starting point another of Johnson’s sculptures which was burnt in my house fire, a flying bird, whose glass bottle body cracked in the extreme heat, but whose folded wire wings defiantly survived….
Johnson, dear friend, has restored this bird to flight for me… given it wings, colour…
Wings, taking flight…. my sketch book grows, as do larger sketches on art paper using my own handmade charcoal, burnt in my own hardwood fires….
I start to take flight in my mind….
in my sketches
and on my paper…
Flight, Fight, Fire and cultural tales of fire and survival, fascinate me.
Giant African Land snails are my inspiration, my obsession, such symbols of resilience, beauty….they are sculptural icons, satisfyingly complete shapes adhering to ancient art principles
Fire is a great destroyer but also re-juvenates, cleanses…
and I keep a sketch book of ideas and dreams….
my burnt wooden bird sculpture needs to re-incarnate, to live again…
much like a phoenix rising from the ashes of life, of my house fire….
My phoenix installation that I created after our bush fire, in memory of those burnt pieces that we salvaged from the lodge, and singed again in yet another fire, waiting to renew itself…!!
Vulnerable to fire only, the iconic leadwood fence posts that used to mark the man-made boundaries of the over-grazed cattle paddocks in the colonial history of the Save Valley Conservancy, before they were uplifted to make way for a healthier ecosystem dedicated to sustainable wildlife landuse in this semi arid zone, are impervious to age and water and white ants, but are instantly destroyed by wild bush fires. So many of these great posts that supported the thatch roof structure of the Senuko Lodge, were lost during the fire we had at Senuko lodge a few years ago….
Hard as leadwood seems to be, indestructible though it appears, it is intensely vulnerable…..
Thank goodness many of these powerful sculptures survived the vissitudes of fire, and my plans are to create an installation of these iconic leadwood posts, each housing some Burnt Offerings in the notches, are slowly growing….in my garden and in my mind!
Pages from my sketch book..
Horns, bones, skulls, wood ……
Skeletons fascinate me, symbols of all that is left once the soft tissue of the body has disintregated, a symbol, a link between our earthly selves and our spiritual selves…
Bones, shells, “offerings” in the quest of finding ourselves, releasing our creative potential,
My found objects, my saved objects, skulls and burnt picture frames, are indicative of resilience, reflecting the fragile ecosystems around me, within me…
always I sketch, here is my found impala skull, possibly a lion or wild dog prey, the beautiful struggle of LIFE…..
“Burnt Offerings” indeed, “Beautiful Struggle” for sure……the cycle of loss, sacrifice and continued perseverance and faith towards the bigger picture……
Sketches ongoing, fascination with birds, with phoenixes, moving towards taking flight…
What does home mean to me in these difficult ‘Covid’ times, times of worldwide isolation, restriction, social distancing…?
Home can be a place to retreat to and a place of love, for me a place where I create my Art and nurture my Family, but for many less fortunate people perhaps it has become an uncomfortable place during this epidemic…
They say “Home is where the Heart is…” but in time of Covid, social distance and self-isolation at home can be devastating, destructive, for those who live alone, or indeed in abusive relationships, with no recourse to kindly human touch, empathetic human interaction…Please! lets nurture and lets celebrate the Kindly Human Touch!
Home is an online exhibition at The Corridor Gallery in Harare, and here are two of my artworks from that show…
Lin Barrie, “Social Distance“, reaching, needing, but not quite touching….
They say “Home is where the Heart is…” but in time of Covid, social distance and no recourse to kindly human touch, empathetic human interaction can lead to a breakdown od our mental well being, linked to our physical health……lets celebrate the “Hand on Heart” gesture, a form of greeting in many societies, and a gesture of love and goodwill…
Lin Barrie, charcoal sketch detail, showing a Hand on Heart gesture…respect, care for those around us, a universal symbol of love…
Handshaking and hugging are universal greetings which are compromised by Covid.
hand on Heart is another of my works on virtual display in the Home exhibition, at The Corridor Gallery, Harare
What do we Do instead of a handshake or a hug!? Place Hand on Heart instead! I love it, here reflected in my painting “To Touch or Not To Touch”, currently on display at the Signs of The Times, annual summer exhibition, Gallery Deltain Harare…..
The ‘Hand on Heart” gesture gives perfect connection, a sense of respect and caring to the receiver….
Isolation and self protection from virus infection encourages people to use alternative modes of greeting instead of a handshake. Fist bumping, smiling, bowing, waving, and non-contact Namaste gestures, raised brows, smiling, wai bow, two claps, hand over heart, sign language wave, or the shaka sign elbow bump, the fist bump, foot tapping ….
Don’t Touch… a mantra being drummed into us all by the fears of pandemic and plague…
In our Tsonga (Hlengwe) tradition in the south east of zimbabwe (the northern Tsonga region towards the Limpopo River), Women use hand clapping horizontally and Men use hand clapping vertically as a form of thanks/greeting. Kubamavoko is the act of hand clapping, Bamavoko is the noun.
Or, a wonderfully friendly solution for covid concerns, men use a Hand on Heart greeting…Kusheweta is the act of greeting, Sheweta the noun…….