Art series: The Memory of Trees by Kym Barrett


Kym Barrett has lived in regional Queensland for most of her life.  She studied both Fine Arts and Art Teaching in Brisbane.  Her exhibition called The Memory of Trees will open in Brisbane on 29th October.2010    Barrett\’s work is always subtle and complex and within this series of paintings she has been able to exploit mixed media and collage to her absolute advantage.

By reviving memories of the beauty of the world, and the people who live in it, Barrett reminds viewers to “tread lightly and think deeply about relationships with each other and the natural world that we share.”

Barrett says that she usually begins her works with spontaneous, intuitive mark-making, collaged areas and limited colour selection over a base of Japanese unryushi paper glued to the canvas.  “At some point a sense of structure emerges and the work evolves.  There is a balance between early spontaneity and studied analysis.  Abstraction is often tempered with representational passages,” she says.

Barrett balances early spontaneity and studied analysis, with a sense of abstraction often tempered with representational passages.

Capturing the Essence of Relationship With Nature

For Barrett, painting is an exploration of the potential of mixed media.  Through this process she has been able to explore her inner world.  Intuitively she knows that these two paths are intrinsically entwined.   Barrett hopes that viewers may find a thread of connectedness as they engage with her paintings and thus in some way her communication with nature.

Her work is enmeshed with her spirituality in the Christian contemplative tradition.  This tradition assumes that people “have implicit connectedness with the created world.”  Barrett expresses this concept of connectedness symbolically, characterizing the relationships as a “golden thread.”

The Memory of Trees

Through the exhibition called Memory of Trees, Barrett has set out to subtly convey the links between landscape and the human condition. The landscapes are luscious and sensuous.

Titles such as Murmurings, Holding the Tension and Descending Blue convey a feeling of gentle discovery and willingness to commune with nature in such a way as to ask – what value?

Kym is a profound painter. Through a loose fluidity of earthy, watery meanderings she has achieved visual impact characterized by a deep resonate significance using landscape as metaphor.

Barrett says that the desire to speak eloquently of trees evolved as daily she drove through avenues of trees, and when surrounded by trees at her home property.  Aspects of the richness of nature became embedded in her memory and emerged as recurring fragmentary images in her paintings.  As she submerged within this experience, she was able to portray the essence of how nature speaks to her, and through her, to viewers.  This communication is about personal and universal human experience.

In her captivating work Barrett has been able to capitalize on her interest in nature’s expressive patterns and contrasts. She works with subtle balance of light and shadow. She uses contrast of positive and negative to echo rhythmical patterns of human lives.

The Spirituality of Barrett’s Artworks

‘A picture is nothing but a bridge between the soul of the artist and that of the spectator.’ (Eugene Delacroix 1798 – 1863)

In an email interview, Barrett said her paintings are expressions of her search for life’s intangible, unseen spirit. She says that she imagines this as a mysterious \”golden thread\” invisibly weaving through all things, connecting everything. A scroll through a gallery of the exhibition will show works about various forms of connection. She says that this produces a context for mystery, metaphor and meaning. (Interview June 2010)

Barrett’s watercolours and prints evoke a sense of awe in a sensual and soft, sensitive manner. The eco-spiritual artworks attract viewers to hold their gaze as they connect to the imagery. She describes the connections as \”threads,\” which may evolve into personal meaning.

Her work will be displayed at the Paddington Substation, the Head Quarters of Artworkers Alliance until the 13th November 2010.  This is a refurbished brick building that once helped run Brisbane’s trams.  In an article about the Gritty Places Partnership program, Geraldine Knapp enthused about the idea of converting old buildings into art venues.  “It is such as fantastic idea,” she said. (Brown. 2010)


What an appropriate place to present an eco-spiritual exhibition of this nature!


Brown.P, (2010)  Power to the People. Brisbane News. 2010.

Murphy.J,  (2010)  Barrett\’s St. Clare Featured at Pray2010 Conference.