The starting point for the concept of this exhibition in the Silk Mill was the Old Mostar Bridge which was destroyed in the Bosnian War in 1993. It was a symbol of the joining of Ottoman East with the Austro-Hungarian West.
Ever since I visited Mostar in October 2006 I have been haunted by the idea that, in a small community similar to ours, civil war can erupt and people lay down their lives for the sake of principle, nation, race or religion. Layers is my attempt to make sense of the fact that human beings are prepared to kill each other for not belonging to a particular group identity/belief. I have tried to find a unity of belief by working with symbols of the sun and moon. In the context of having lived in the comparative ‘paradise’ of the UK since 1945, I strongly identify with the words of Mahatma Ghandi: "I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life.".
By putting these highly coloured paintings in the Silk Mill, enhanced by Helen Ottaway’s music answering the series of twelve colours with a circle of twelve tones, I am trying to create a place of contemplation. On the floor of the gallery I will continue the dialogue in Black and White paint on a 9 metre canvas and will be there each day during the period of the exhibition.
Barry Cooper – September 2008