Hannah Barry, gallerist, on the sky at dusk.
GB Why did you choose the sky at dusk?
HB I chose it because that particular type of sky at that particular time of day has long been a preoccupation of mine. Since I was nine or ten I’ve loved this idea of looking up at something that’s so grand and that everybody can share. I chose that image because it’s the most representative of all my experiences of skies to date.
GB What’s your first impulse when you see that kind of beauty? Is it to share it? Or paint it, or photograph it or just contemplate it?
HB I think it’s more to do with contemplation. When I was growing up my bedroom was at the back of the house and so I had a fantastic view. It wasn’t a view of the whole sunset because that was obscured by houses – but I saw what happens to the sky after the sun has left which is in many ways more interesting than the point at which it sets. The colours are so incredibly beautiful it’s almost magical. And it can change in a minute. You can completely own it if you choose to do so. When I was a child I imagined that it was the washerwoman of God hanging out the clothes and even wrote a poem about it!
GB Did you become interested in cloud formations or astronomy at all?
HB I love Constable’s clouds and the way he would mark the back of paintings with the weather conditions and the wind force at the time. And there are those incredible Richter cloud paintings. He says that clouds are one of the most abstract forms in nature. I would love to see the northern lights so I’m interested in a general way but not in detail.
GB Do you think beauty is always as obvious and immediate as your sky or do some types of beauty grow on you over time? In art for instance.
HB I think it’s to do with looking. It’s a choice. You can be let down by anything if you allow yourself to be. Beauty doesn’t always impact you immediately. It’s a hard question to answer because it depends on your character. Some people find Goya’s monster eating flesh beautiful and to an extent it is. It depends on how you experience things more than what they actually are. Artists like Paul McCarthy or Bruce Nauman make very powerful work that deals with very painful subjects, but it takes courage to make it. Courage in a human being is very beautiful.
GB Do you hope that people find beauty in the art they buy from you?
HB Well it’s up to them. That’s not the reason people choose to acquire art. I hope more that it’s because the artist provides an amazing mirror to the place we’re in. In the words of Bruce Nauman, “The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths.”
GB What makes something worthy of the word Beauty to you?
HB It gets you and clings onto you and doesn’t go away. And then when you can’t sleep or you’re feeling anxious, or your confidence is in ruins and you’re heartbroken – then you can turn to it and it provides relief. For me, going to the rooftop where I took this picture is an amazing thing to be able to do in times of trial. The sky is always there above you if you want it – with all its subtlety, like a precious jewel that changes in the light.