When Tony asked me what I wanted for Christmas, unlike most years, there was no doubt in my mind. Cast your mind back to late May, when I interviewed Jim Barry and his wife Jan Cave Barry for my No Ordinary Expats series for Insiders Abroad. Jim and Jan are artists who are building a great reputation for themselves, and I was so impressed with their art, I came home with a limited edition print of one of Jim’s ‘Gaslight’ series of paintings depicting Victorian London. If you missed the article, it’s here.
When Jim contacted me recently to invite Tony and I to an open weekend at Casa Barry, I graciously informed Tony that he could buy me another print – or maybe two – from the series to go with my ‘Omnibus’ painting. As Jim says, ‘Paintings like company – they fade on their own.’ So, off we went, and we received a great Irish welcome – and a glass of wine. Jim is so laid back you wonder if he’ll fall over, and before he let us loose on the paintings, we had a nice chat – and more wine – on their lovely sunny terrace. That’s when ‘Las Palmeras de la Mata’ first caught my eye, and I began to swivel in my choice of painting.
Jim explained that they had this sort of exhibition, with a limited number of invited people, so that they could clear out some paintings and make room for new art. I wondered if it was a symbolic clearing out of the old at the end of the year, but Jim being Jim, it’s more practical than that. ‘It’s coming up to Christmas, and it’s a chance for people to sort out presents for friends and family, and maybe take something back to England or wherever they hail from. All the paintings are reduced, so they can grab a bargain as well’
I asked Jim about the history of the La Mata painting, and he told me it came from a photo he took on an early morning walk on La Mata beach, back in 2010. It had taken around three weeks to paint, and by now, I was in love with it, and determined to take it home to Piddock Place. I’m no art critic, but I know a lovely piece of art when I see it, and the fact that Jim had only been painting in earnest for six years when he produced it makes it even more remarkable for me.
Having decided on my Christmas present, I thought I might as well get a blog post out of it, so asked Jim what he’d been working on recently. The guy is nothing if not versatile – you won’t get 10 different studies of the same flower from Jim – so I wasn’t really surprised that his newest work is ‘The Boys are Back.’ It’s a vibrant painting of Thin Lizzy on stage, but like most of Jim’s work, there’s more to the story than what you see on canvas.
Before he came to Spain, Jim was a member of The Memories, an Irish rock band who had a Number One hit with The Game, the 1990 World Cup anthem. He was playing the circuit at the same time as Thin Lizzy, and their stage positions in the painting are how he remembers them playing in the 1970s. The amplifiers in the background are 1970s models too, as are the guitars, in which the detail has to be seen to be believed. The painting took around five weeks to complete, and Jim is justifiably proud of it.
Jim and Jan weren’t quite finished with us though – they invited us to eat out with them. I thought that was pretty special, as I had just mentioned to Jan that I ought to put a contract out on Jim so my painting would shoot up in value. However, she had an even better idea: ‘Buy a few more originals, and then arrange the hit!’ We spent a very entertaining and educational evening with them. For example, all these years, Tony has been referring to a certain Irish whisky as it’s spelled. However, Jim pointed out the error of his ways. Apparently, it’s pronounced ‘Jemesons,’ as in ‘gem.’ You live and learn, don’t you?
Tony must have been feeling generous – or else he’d had one too many Jemesons – because he said I could also have another Gaslight print. I wasn’t able to bring it home, as it needs to be mounted, but ‘Las Palmeras de la Mata’ is safely installed in its new home, and it looks stunning. If you’re searching for that special Christmas gift, or if you just want to brighten up your home and treat yourself to something wonderful, check out Jim’s catalogue here, then message him to arrange a viewing. Jan’s style is totally different, but equally easy on the eye. She’s a former dancer, and her ballet studies are stunning. She’s also pictured sitting with two of her own originals in the slideshow. Between Jim’s and Jan’s work, you’re sure to find something really special, whatever your taste in art. Say hello from me while you’re there!