The first impression that his work creates is a sense of calm and serenity, poetry and beauty. The simplicity of the recorded moment in time. The calm. And then one notices the slight unsettlement that lingers on in his work. Almost like an after taste.
‘Maybe we’ll all be soldiers’ is a thought provoking series which captures the uncertainty of today very well. Mixed emotions – keeping a brave face while a thousand turmoil brew within every mind today. All will be ok. But will it be? I associate the key words of this project to the strange times that we find ourselves in – ‘the anxieties, hopes, suspicions and the excitations’ that must go through every mind. Tranquil yet unsettling – the calm – the deafening silence that has come about us. The uncertainty that goes beyond the frame. Like his portraits reflect the sense of disturbance, even though they seem tranquil and peaceful, is exactly what the times of today reflects – its something more than the lockdown – it’s a bigger picture that one needs to see. The lockdown ending and eventually the world coming back to normal is not possible. This is the time where we need to learn and look beyond the present toward a sustainable future, to set right the imbalance that we have created. The situation today feels the same. Confined to our houses, is this the calm before the storm?
His work ‘Tomorrow six am’ has many deeper meanings than meets the eye. His words seem poetic and prophetic at the same time. ‘My pictures represent a time of day that offer a glimpse of clarity and a brief moment of solitude in semi darkness.’ – This statement perfectly resonates my thoughts at the present time when times are tough, situation looks grim but this forced solitude must enforce a sense of self-ownership upon every individual – they must see and understand the havoc that we have created upon this world and we must open our eyes to the existence of other species around us that will be around despite us being there or not and how we must check this immense imbalance that we have created.
Boredom to Burn makes me mad at him; childhood where pranks and mischiefs account for such painful and senseless devastation – It would have been great to showcase this work as a mark of repentance rather than reminiscing it as mischievous childhood. It would put a different message forth. Although again I will take this as a wake-up call for humans who are responsible for the mass destruction of this planet on an unprecedented scale and the way our world is today, either for their greed or for their egos.
Youth and landscape are the principle subtexts used in his works to explore the pre-conceived notions of social background versus ability and individual potential. The same way that he has used youth and landscape in his works are effective tools in today’s context – youth as the future of our world and landscape that we need to protect from ourselves.
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” – Rachel Carson(Carson. 1962)
Key points and learnings from Barnard’s works-
- Looking beyond the picture
- This too shall pass
- Hidden Subtleties
- Mixed emotions
- What is born must die
- Change is the only constant
- Change & Reflection
Fig 1 Barnard, G. (2020) Gawain Barnard: Boredom To Burn. [Photograph] At: https://www.gawainbarnard.com/ (Accessed 14/4/2020).
Annenberg Space for Photography (2020) Gawain Barnard | Annenberg Space For Photography. At: https://www.annenbergphotospace.org/person/gawain-barnard/ (Accessed 14/4/2020).
Gawainbarnard.com (2020) Gawain Barnard. At: https://www.gawainbarnard.com/ (Accessed 14/4/2020).