Visual Art 08/05/09
The Yard Gallery in Holywood, Co Down, always stocks a varied collection of limited-edition prints and one of its best selling printmakers is Mychael Barratt.
Barratt is one of the top three printmakers in Britain, as far as sales are concerned, and the Yard is the only gallery in Northern Ireland that represents him. I was delighted to catch up with him last week at the opening of his first one-person show over here.
Barratt was born in Canada and came to London 20 years ago where, although already an illustrator, he studied printmaking at St Martin’s. Gregarious and entertaining, Barratt enjoys being with people and stores away a wealth of observation which he transfers to the characters who people his images.
Life itself is his inspiration and “anecdotal incidents from day-to-day life are at the heart of his prints”, to quote the blurb.
He admits to being “obsessed with Shakespeare” and a number of the pieces in this show are directly related to the playwright.
The Great Globe Itself, for example, was inspired by Mychael’s first sight of the famous English theatre and he created it to raise funds for its restoration, a very successful project.
Commissioned to write a book on intaglio printmaking, typically he determined to try out each technique — from drypoint to engraving and aquatint — and created in all 26 small plates all based in some way on the works of Shakespeare.
His print O For A Muse Of Fire is the culmination of this experiment and this dedication to excellence seems typical of the man.
He loves the creative process and is meticulous about making his own plates and pulling his own proofs but freely admits that once he is entirely satisfied with the image he “simply hasn’t the patience to pull the edition prints” (usually around 150) and at that point hands it over to his printer who “does a much better job than me — I just want to bang them out, he takes more time.”
He does, however, do all his own hand colouring.
It’s a great show which runs until May 14. To view the images and the prices visit www.yardgallery.com