Five Leaves of Elder by Barry Cook

My guest blog today is by Todmorden based artist Barry Cook. Thank you, Barry, for writing this blog about your exhibition at Dean Clough Galleries in Halifax, West Yorkshire. If you haven't already been, please go, there is a lot to look at, as he will explain below. The mix of work is very inspiring, colourful, thoughtful and fun. 


Barry Cook – Todmorden Artist

Current Exhibition – One Person Show

30+ New Artworks:

‘Five Leaves of Elder’

The Link Gallery, Dean Clough, Halifax HX3 5AX

Open daily 9am to 5pm

Until 24th May 2018



Good Disabled Access

‘Five Leaves of Elder’


 This exhibition by me contains all new work produced during the Winter 2017, mainly paintings (large and small), plus clay sculptures and photography.

There are 5 themes linked around the ‘Five Leaves of Elder’.

‘The Tree of Life’ – life affirming paintings celebrating our relationship with trees


‘Saint James’ – loosely inspired by the life of Saint James

‘Seven Songs’ – where I have used some favourite contemporary music as starting points for paintings

‘Withins’ – conceptual clay works celebrating the Brontes


‘Kings’ – conceptual photographic works about identity, place and time



I attended Art College in the 1970s. I started working in my present style in 1990, exhibiting work from 1995 onwards. I now have more than 150 paintings in private collections.


I am a contemporary artist living in Todmorden. The main artworks I produce are water based figurative paintings. I also produce sculptures and photography. I have lived in Todmorden, West Yorkshire for the past 33 years where I have my studio.


Using watercolours, inks, gouache and pencil, I produce imaginative, theatrical narrative paintings, inspired by nature, music, stories and myths. I use a variety of symbols and animal images to represent characters and ideas in my paintings. My painting image size varies from A5 to A2 (occasionally A1). My sculptural works and photographs follow parallel themes to my paintings.

Many different artists influence my work – Outsider Art, the COBRA art group, David Jones, Ken Kiff, Alan Davie, Stanley Spencer, John Piper, Mary Fedden, Shani Rhys James, Dieter Roth, David Shrigley, Cornelia Parker.....

Nature, Music and Literature are three big influences. Birds such as Nightjars and insects such as Mayflies and earwigs frequently feature in my paintings. With a wide range of music influencing my ideas, anything from opera to the Manic Street Preachers and Iggy Pop can inspire new storylines in my work. In literature, novels especially those of George Orwell, Charles Dickens and Rose Tremain, give me new ideas for art. Inspirations for my recent works include entomology, tree life, Saints, the Brontes, Victorian industrial philanthropy and ancient cultures and their use of hieroglyphics.

Barry Cook