Pakeha 2011

Still-life painting is a curious discipline of observation combined with technical capability.

The genre harks back to the middle ages and draws our attention to everyday objects we might find within the domestic setting eg, fruit, crockery, vases, shot game etc. In fact, 'still lifes' invariably have very little 'life' left in them at all. In this series of 6 works, I explore the traditional conventions of 'still life' painting with a just a little more 'life' than one is normally accustomed to. These paintings ask the viewer to suspend disbelief and to immerse themselves into the 'still living'.
Portrait of John Rutherford with white Huia leaving NZ
Between the devil & the deep

76 x 60 cm
Oil on Canvas 2009 

John Rutherford b.1796 - A blemished story of an English sailor and sole survivor of the captured American brig Agnes which put in at Tokomaru, Bay of Islands. Surviving for 10 years with local Maori, the 'White New Zealander' finally makes his escape. The ta moko given him is an apt addition to the ink stained map of his life and stands testament to his experience, connecting him forever more to Aotearoa.

Walter Buller struggles with attacking birds, painting by Liam Barr
Buller's Birds (Avaritia no habet legem)

80 60 cm Oil on Wood 2009 

Buller o' Buller, what corrupted you so, you killed our poor birds for what I don't know. Was money the drive for the thousands you killed or the kick you recieved from the blood that you spilled. In one way we thank you for the books that you made, but the price was too high and for that, we have paid.

prostitute from Kororareka with Huia fan and rifles  painting by Liam Barr
Mistress Molly

76 x61 cm
Oil on Canvas 2010 

Kororareka (Russell) in the 1830 - 40's, well known for its drunkenness, depravity, lawlessness and dubbed 'Gomorrah, the scourge of the Pacific. With as many as 40 whaling ships anchored off for a three week period, prostitution was a thriving industry. An opportunistic maid would avail herself on board (known as 'the three week marriage') to gain such items as blankets, gowns, guns etc. and quite probably a nasty rash.

Painting of Girl and boy horsing around with a theme of control by Liam Barr
Aurora's Figaro

76 x 61 cm
Oil on Canvas 2011 

Struggle for dominance is legend. The play once initiated invariably becomes a battle of wits and guile. Handled well, she accrues a willing steed to entertain her whim and fancy. Overstep the mark however, the beast will bolt thundering to his place of sanctuary where only the promise of sugar treats will lure him slack back and broken.

Deprived of its medium, sound cannot travel, hence, quiet subjugation prevails.
Bell Jar

60 x 40 cm
Oil on Canvas 2010 

As air is pumped from sealed bell jar, any noise from within fades away to silence, thus demonstrating that the propagation of sound is mediated by air. Deprived of its medium, sound cannot travel, hence, quiet subjugation prevails.

Woman smokes pipe with emperor penguin painting from Liam Barr
Faethm

Oil on Canvas 2009 

Faethm stands her watch in solitary grace, heart of oak and knowing. Jack Tar, a mate 'til her last gasp, will keep her ember glowing, For many a salty has come to pass with all the seeds for sowing. These days she casts a full arms length, to spare the to and fro'ing.

Woman astride a rockinghorse lament the loss of her youth, painting by Liam Barr
Land of little luxury

71 x 55.5 cm
Oil on Canvas 2010 

This land of little luxury, this house, my home, my prison, has worked me to the bone. Youth came and went, the silver shone, here I sit alone. Rocking Rolley, looking fine, no child did ever ride, for I became the rocking horse, reined in well before time.

boy and girl having a picnic on the Wellington hill in 1840 awaitng their block to become available
Promise & Prayer

101 x 76cm
Oil on Canvas 2010

To the last of your species, your kind, your kin, your feathered folk of brothers. You sink your song with ink to skin to scribe the pain of others. She cares nought, tis worth the pain, aquiver and ecstatic. For one as her, curse'd lost, who'll wrest a thrill at any cost, she notes the tone hieratic.

Crippled boy sits on wheelchair with two headed Huia by Liam Barr
.22 Calibre Historian

71 x 55.5 cm
Oil on Canvas 2009 

A .22 calibre historian, alone in his emporium, his braces shan't deny the thrill, of yet another small bore kill, taken from the window sill. our poor mistaken boy. With precision tools sharp and true, straw, thread and a bit of glue, he made them look as good as new, our poor misshapen boy.

'What's shot's history; what's missed's mystery.' - The wholesale harvesting of NZ fauna to feed museums & collections has brought about devastating effect to our most treasured bird species. Here, the boy covets his freakish trophy, crippled by indifference, he fails to see the irony.

Kimble Bent holds sword and patu lamenting the loss of his whanau by Liam barr
Bent

71 x 55.5 cm
Oil on Canvas 2010 

Kimble Bent (Ringiringi) 1837-1917. A soldier from the 57th Regiment who after being gaoled for 2 years for stealing a watch and later given 25 lashes for refusing to carry firewood, promptly deserted and lived with Maori in the back-blocks of the Taranaki region for 14 years before eventually resurfacing from 'exile' in 1878. He died in Blenheim aged 80.

Woman with gun and fennec fox painting from Liam Barr
Amberley

76 x 61 cm
Oil on Canvas 2010 

To hold is to have - to have is to cherish - to cherish is to protect - to protect is to risk - to risk is to die for.

Castaway skipper drinks with kea on his arm by Liam barr
No Man's Land

91 x 71 cm
Oil on Canvas 2010 

"It is thus, if there is any rule, that we ought to die-neither as victim nor as fanatic, but as the seafarer who can greet with an equal eye the deep that he is entering, and the shore that he must leave." E. M. Forster.