Preview exhibition of Bernard Irwin’s ‘If I were a Blackbird I’d whistle and sing’ at Heseltine Gallery

Born in British Malaya in 1953, Bernard Irwin grew up in England and Germany. In 1981 he returned to England following postgraduate studies in the Netherlands, and eventually in 1996, he moved to Cornwall.

During late 2015 into spring 2016 he worked on two small paintings, Slow Motion Blackbird [private collection, not in exhibition] and Blackbird Sings. In both paintings bright colours sing out from behind a central black form that flows from top to bottom, crossing softly lit space. Amongst the many impressions and ideas that formed these paintings was the lyrical stream of notes that a blackbird sings from the tree outside his studio; others are a contemporary jazz piece and Orpheus, descending into Hades, attempting with the song of his lyre to return with Eurydice back to the light and life. For Bernard his paintings are a kind of singing, the place where he finds a voice. This, and a deep association with music, are alluded to in the title of the exhibition, which also suggests themes of change and transformation that run like a thread through all the paintings.