Painter Barbary O’Brien

Text and images by Barbary O’Brien

Crying tree 1 (Summer), 2m x 2m, acrylic on canvas, by Barbary O’Brien.

Barbary O’Brien: I am a Queer Feminist Artist, Cartoonist, Mural painter, Designer and Environmentalist living, surfing, and working at Ratalang/Middleton, on Ngarrindjeri/Ramindjeri Country, on the South Coast of South Australia.

I often refer to myself as a visual communicator and have facilitated arts projects in a diversity of contexts, such as schools, youth health centres, prisons, government departments, arts festivals, First Nations communities, urban, rural & remote places, for forty five years, with a strong educational and social development sub text, and in recent decades focusing strongly on the environment. I have worked with children and young people a lot over my career and feel that mentoring and encouraging young people in the process of creating artworks and community cultural development is vital for fostering future generations of artists; and growing community understanding and appreciation of the role of the arts in life and work.

I have always been motivated to bring humans closer to the natural world in the hope of evoking a sense of wonder, compassion, and connection, thus, many of my public art projects – murals and mosaics – have focused on pictorial interpretive works. I have recently retired from this career to focus exclusively on my personal arts practice. I am primarily a painter, working on quite large scale canvases in a semi-abstract colourist style. But really, anything goes!


Fire in the belly, acrylic on canvas, 1.8m x 2m, by Barbary O’Brien.

Crying tree 3 (we all become the stars), acrylic on canvas, 2m x 2m, by Barbary O’Brien.