“I make things and make marks using a variety of different media,” says John Barradell. An enthusiastic explorer of materials in both two and three dimensions, he says that staying curious is essential. He is developing work using tetra-packs, upcycling it as a material in its own right and developing a print-making process.
What is your basic cv?
It is difficult for a seventy year old to give a short cv. I was born and bred in Leicester went to Lancaster Boys School, Gateway Boys School and the Leicester College of Art. I worked for some time in my father's sign asking business. I designed textiles initially as a freelance designer and later working for three different companies, ending up as Design Director. With the demise of the textile industry and having been involved in managing a large youth opportunities project, I returned to learning and completed a BA Hons in Economic and Social History and a post-graduate Certificate in Education at Leicester University, then I taught Humanities in a local High School. All of this time I was doing 'my own work'. This work became more important to me and I eventually built a studio and print workshop.
A DAY IN YOUR LIFE
What does a typical day as an artist look like for you?
I don't have typical day, I may be working in the studio, I may be creative on my allotment, or riding my bike, I may do all of these things or something else.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
The mercenary answer is making a sale, but finishing a piece of work that I am satisfied with is the most important.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
What skills are essential to you?
Drawing, Drawing, Drawing and Looking, Looking, Looking, which are the same thing in my opinion.
How did you choose your current theme, if you have one?
I don't know that what I am working on is a theme, but I have recently visited the Louvre and the National Gallery where I spent a lot of time looking at early Christian Art.
The brightness of egg tempera and the use of gold leaf reminded me of the methods used by my father, who was a very skilled craftsman and I remembered the regimental drums the he emblazoned using strong colour and gold leaf. So although it is not really a theme it is a challenge to produce some pieces which draw on some of those influences but which are relevant to me and the time in which I live.
How did you get to where you are now?
I kept breathing and remained curious.
What were your best subjects at school? What and where did you study?
Art and English, I had an inspirational art teacher Alec (chalky) White at Gateway.
What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?
DEPRESSION, which has largely been overcome by the help and understanding of others and being open about it.
What’s the proudest moment of your artistic career so far?
Do you have any regrets?
There is no point in being regretful, you can only live in the present.
What advice would give your 22-year-old-self?
That would be a waste of time as I wouldn't have listened.
EITHER/OR. . . .
Coffee or tea?
Coffee mid morning but tea at all other times.
Michelangelo or Picasso?
Mac or PC?
I suppose an iPad counts as a Mac.
Morning or night
Morning if not too early, night if not too late, except when on holiday.
Bob Dylan because he has reinvented himself so many times. His voice is not the most beautiful, but he communicates so much and his work has had a long term influence on me.
Zadok the Priest. I have recently got involved with choral singing and this work by Handel is really stirring stuff.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I became quite a fan of John Irving's writing, I really like his ability to make the most unbelievable occurrences real and unquestionable.
Rothko, I am always moved by his paintings and remember clearly the first time as a teenager seeing my first Rothko at the Tate.
Paul Klee, my artistic education was based on his pedagogical sketchbook. I love his use of colour, his inventiveness, his precision, I particularly like the small scale works which makes viewing them very personal.
Alan Davie, big, bold, gestural, strong images.
Things do on a Friday night
If the Tigers are at home I go to Welford Road, otherwise I do what I would do on most other evenings.
Le Bois, near Merigny
Best piece of advice you’ve been given
My father advised me, "If you feel ill, do not go to hospital, go to a pub," with the reasoning that "less people die in pubs".
Lesley Brooks 5 March 2015
Just felt as though we were sitting having a nice group chat - perhaps down the allotment! Thank you for all your thoughts - especially the amusing ones!
Kate Ruse 4 March 2015
I have always liked your work John. Enjoyed your blog and the refreshingly witty answers.
Maggie MacDonald 4 March 2015
A wonderful artist, I am proud to have his work on my walls. A wonderful man, my friend.
Kevin Riley 3 March 2015
Thanks for introducing me to John Irving and Owen Meany, I don't think I would have come across him without you. And a big thanks for your Dad's advice about visiting pubs before hospitals - excellent advice. Its great to know that while. I much prefer your view on curiosity rather than the depressing thought that curiosity killed the cat!
Thank you for your comment Kevin - you will be able to see some of John's work at the Cank Street Gallery soon.