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Barry John MBE.

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Barry John MBE is a Welsh soldier and artist. He served in the British armed forces for over 23 years. In the 2010 New Years Honours List Barry John was awarded the MBE. He is mainly an abstract artist. Through his work, he expresses stories, memories, demons, harsh and sometimes brutal truths, and the beauty, colours, and resilience of a conflicted world.

Barry John was born in NeylandPembrokeshire and was a pupil at Sir Thomas Picton School, Haverfordwest before joining the Army at the age of 16. His first posting was to Hong Kong, and further postings to Korea, China, Malaysia, Jamaica, USA, Germany, Poland, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and Kosovo followed.

 

The experiences he has had during his service have formed most of the content of his art. 

The former soldier is well-known for his trailblazing work running the VC Gallery in Haverfordwest, where he provides a safe space in which army veterans, older people, children and people experiencing isolation or mental health difficulties can try their hand at art and hold their own exhibitions. He is also a respected artist in his own right and this show demonstrates the scope and strength of his work. The pieces on display include works made after visits to London in the wake of recent terrorist attacks. The resulting ‘black graffiti’ paintings have led some to dub him ‘the Welsh Basquiat.’ Treading the line between order and chaos, these large-scale pieces demonstrate a love of colour that runs through much of John’s work.

Barry has held many solo art exhibitions throughout the UK and Europe and many group exhibitions including the John Creasey Museum in Salisbury and Exeter Castle. He has also exhibited in the Waterfront Gallery, Milford Haven, with an exhibition titled 'Homecoming', opened by Andrew Vicari. At the Mall Gallery, London, in the Armed Forces exhibition with Prince Charles and opened by the then Secretary of Defense, where Barry was presented with the Templar Award for Art. Barry did a number of powerful pieces at the Art of Remembrance showing work on the Welsh at Mametz Wood. His work has also been auctioned as part of the Square Mile Salute. In 2017 he won an award for community work at the Pride of Britain Awards and has won a Local Heros award for art three times.

In August 2017 Barry held a solo exhibition at the Late November Gallery, Haverfordwest, opened by the former New York Times art critic, John Russell Taylor. In February 2018 Barry held a solo art exhibition called 'Remains of the Day' at Tenby Museum and Art Gallery. The exhibition featured a number of works including examples of his ‘black graffiti’ and Geisha girls.

His themes can be challenging, often including riots and terrorism, but Barry's art reflects the challenge that he sees in life. The forms, shapes, colour and execution of his work represent being brave in art. Barry's work has been compared to Jean-Michel Basquiat, painting in a similar neo-expressionist style, stemming from the tradition of graffiti and street art.

Barry now has works in museums and galleries including Kooywood Gallery, Cardiff, Pure Art, Milford Haven, Broadway Luxury Gallery, Cotswolds, and the Fleek Gallery in Devon. His work is in many private collections; most notably actor Rhys Ifans, world-title boxer Gavin Rees and Chef Raymond Blanc amongst others.

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Awards.

  • South Korea UN medal (NATO) 1992

  • Northern Ireland medal (Peace keeping) 1994

  • Bosnia medal (NATO) 1999

  • Kosovo medal (Peace keeping) 2000

  • Jubilee medal 2015 

  • Long service good conduct medal 2012

  • MBE Services to the community and recruiting 2013

  • Templar arts award Armed Forces art Society 2013

  • Local hero’s awards for art and culture 2015

  • Arts and Business award (working in partnership with Valero) 2016

  • Local hero’s award for art and community 2016

  • Finalist for awards for all Wales 2016

  • Shortlisted for Arts and Business 2016 (working with arts and youths)  2016

  • Pride of Britain Community winner 2017

  • A and B award youth art 2018 (in partnership with Port of Milford Haven) 2018

  • Silver for ‘The Soldiering On’ health and art award 2019

  • Dyfed Powys Police Crime Commissioners award 2019

  • Welsh Veterans awards for community 2019

  • Welsh Veterans awards lifetime achievement awards 2019

  • Welsh Veterans awards Veterans champion award 2019

  • No 10 Downing street points of light award 2019

Commisions.

Thanks for your request!

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