Sunday, 4 April 2010


Have you noticed the increase in the use of barriers in modern society? Some are being erected because of the increased threat of terrorism others because of growing awareness of health and safety. Where in the past there was an open concourse in front of the houses of Parliament now there are very large concrete barriers. They have tried to disguise them to make them less obtrusive but they are still there as a constant reminder of the daily threat.

No all the far from Parliament is Downing Street the residence of the Prime Minister and Chancellor. I remember being able to walk through this street passed the famous Number 10. Now they have erected large iron gates manned daily by police. This is of course in Great Britain but I am sure it is the same elsewhere.

I have two souvenirs of barriers of history. I have a piece of the Berlin Wall, just a small section but enough to see some of the graffiti that covered the wall. This was a barrier erected to keep people in and to keep people out. My other souvenir is a section of the fence from the nuclear base in Scotland, the home of Trident. Yes in my wild youth I was known to enter such premises in some vain idea that government and the world might pull back from the creation of weapons of mass destruction. Here I am forty and more years later and they are still there and I have a little bit of fence as a poignant reminder.

I saw on the news, a scene of crime, in a graveyard. The police had stretched tape across all the entrances. Now was that to keep people out or to stop the deceased from fleeing the graveyard?

We are surrounded by barriers of all sorts supposedly for our protection. Little fences and notices warning of deep water beware. The same deep water I paddled in as a boy as I tried to catch minnows. At times we have gone mad with barriers.

But the real barriers that we need to be aware of are the barriers we create ourselves. The barriers we erect in our heads that stop us being all that we could be. Those little mind barriers that tell us we cannot do this or we cannot do that. This is too difficult or I could never do that. I was brought up being told daily that I was not going to be able to do certain things. The trouble was I often accepted the invitation to believe it. Before we erect and decorate these barriers, give it a try you might be surprised.

This blog is linked to my other blog where I discuss the artwork:-The Wall


  1. Your last couple of lines aside, I have to say that this truly is a sad commentary on how 'far' we've come as people, wouldn't you say? So many times I find myself wishing I lived in an earlier era when people didn't feel it was ok to do all manner of things as their personal right. The barriers are up here as well, Ralph.

  2. As I rad your post I couldn't get the old 70's song "Sings" out of my head. It was put out in 1972 and sings of signs to keep people out. This isn't a new concept as you point out with your pieces of walls of yesteryear. Unfortunately the barriers continue to pile.

    There is only one barrier around my house. Its the tall trunks of the forest. (and also the fishing line deer fences I put up around my flower beds...) I guess I'm guilty too.

  3. Not really guilty you are in this case only protecting the blooms. That must be good. I am going to listen to that song you recomended.

  4. Good morning and Happy Easter, Ralph! The worst barriers are always self-imposed, and probably the worst of those is the thought of "not having time"! I will be looking for your essay on this subject!

  5. For most of my life, I had a Barrier in my own mind that I could never be an artist. It's funny, since I had always held the belief that you could learn to do anything you wanted to do. But, I thought that being an artist was a talent that you were "born" with, and that certainly wasn't me! But, at age 60, I decided that I was going to try to learn! So glad I did - it's added such a wonderful dimension to my life! Now, singing, that's a different story!

  6. Barriers yes indeed. My son and family just spent a week in New York City and were commenting on the barriers they saw on Wall Street with the same concrete blockage you speak of and scores of security personnel. Seems to have become a way of life.

    The barriers I most dislike here in Southern Ontario are the fences. Everything is fenced daughter won't even stop to pick wildflowers from a field because there is an old rusty rickety fence around the field. I far prefer the north fences... just free "wander-ground"!

    Barriers in our minds is another thing entirely. My mind barriers came from labels attached by others. The one I will fight to overcome mightly though is the word 'stupid'. Just call me 'stupid' and watch what I can accomplish. The other barrier I will fight to overcome is my mother telling me I can't do something.....she is 92 and still will try to lead me to believe "I can't". Doesn't work should know that by now!

    There is an over abundance of barriers in many cases....even Northern Ontario is now becoming barrier conscious...they've barricaded the walkway over the top of the dam....where we used to cycle and swim. They've roped off walkways along gorges where we scrambled with no accident or fatality. They've enclosed everything a young person might freely explore. Too bad, I remember what great fun it was to wander and discover without barriers and control.

  7. So true, Ralph! I was also dissuaded from doing things that I had an inclination to do. My people wanted me to work in the factories! That was their highest hope for me--honestly! (and I did work in factories and I have the highest regard for anyone who works hard at anything)..
    but, of course, I wanted more for myself. Being told that you are not worthy of more than what the factories have to offer is tough!-- I don't know how I managed to extricate myself from the dingy factories to go forward to do other (better) things. I have had to fight the internal voice that says I don't deserve more than the factories..It has taken me a lonnng time to beat down that voice!

  8. p.s....forgot to mention I like this painting very much--textural --vibrant!