Barry had a dream.
He dreamt that he was on the front page of a newspaper with the headline “From Syringe to Brush”.
He had that dream when he was serving his time in prison for drug-related offences and armed robbery. The circumstances within which he had that dream did not bewilder him, nor did he dismiss it as impossible, but instead, it restored in him a hope for his existence – a hope once lost when he found himself in the lock-up of Bedok police station.
It was not his first brush with the law. His frustration with his own inability to change and the prospect of another 10 years in prison drove him to pray for death. Barry has come a long way since that prayer.
He began to share his dream with the people around him and he found support in his art mentors. With every stroke of the brush and spin of the potter’s wheel, Barry grew closer to making his dream a reality.
After 6 years in prison, Barry completed more than 500 commissioned works.
One and a half months after his release, The Straits Times requested for an interview with him.
Holding a paintbrush with a boyish grin, the reporter took a portrait of Barry standing in front of his famous Starfish artwork. This portrait of Barry with his brush was splashed across the front page of the Home Section, with a tagline that now encapsulates his life –“From Syringe to Brush”. Barry’s dream came true.
To emphasise how Barry’s dream was not the result of a stroke of luck, it is usually not a common protocol for The Straits Times to feature an ex-inmate so quickly after his or her release. It could be ruinous for Straits Times’ credibility if the ex-inmate returns to his or her old ways.
The hope and faith of the people around Barry kept him on the path of restoration. And art is Barry’s tool to reconstruct his own life.
Countless lives have been reconstructed as well through Barry’s mentoring sessions with inmates in the prisons. Together with a group of inmates and art mentors in the prison’s art program, they put up an art exhibition in collaboration with the Yellow Ribbon Project in Singapore Art Museum, titled From Night to Light. Through the making of art, inmates find hope and reconciliation that brings them out of the darkness of night to light.
What sets Barry’s art from the rest is his highly unique impasto technique. This technique typically requires the use of acrylic paint on a palette knife. Barry instead uses a simple paintbrush for an entire piece of work.
Barry wishes to impact on everyone the healing and therapeutic effects of art and how it can be used as a medium of expression. He truly believes that everyone is and can be an artist in their own right.
Workshop with Barry
It is Actxplorer’s honour to collaborate with Barry to conduct an exclusive introductory workshop to the impasto technique. He will introduce us to various types of impasto styles. From various themes, you can choose one that you would like to work on – you can bring your own photographs or illustrations for inspiration.
Throughout the 6 hour session (coffee is on us!), Barry will guide you to create your own A2 or A3-sized impasto style masterpiece you can proudly bring home, and call your own 🙂
Workshop details in summary:
Date: 17th December 2016 (Saturday)
Time: 10:00 – 17:00 (1 hour lunch break included)
Venue: 5seventeen studio @ Commonwealth
Cost: USD255 (materials used such as acrylic paint is expensive, and we need a lot of it!)
Max no. of participants per session: 8
Sign up here for the class on the 17th December (Sat). You’ll need to register a new account with us as on Actxplorer, just click on the “Sign Up” button at the top.
Sign ups are open from now till the 9th of December. If you have queries, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get in contact with you as quickly as possible.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to be inspired by Barry, and to bring out the artist in you!