If ever anyone needed a powerful standard of an alternative and entirely sustainable life that has made a big difference, consider Barry Brickell. Died this weekend, or as his biographer on Sunday said to me; “ran out of steam”.
Lots of people dream about running from this city and being a perpetually creative being. He did it, and he went big. From my office tower on the waterfront here I can just see the Coromandel Ranges, like some kind of utopian idea. Any TS reader over 70 will be able to recall the great creative ferment in New Zealand’s arts from the mid-1950s, many of them emboldened to head for the hills. Few, very few, lasted.
He has left behind him a great legacy of ceramics, a substantial private railway, a fully fenced ecological reserve, and thousands upon thousands of satisfied visitors and communal fans.
An introduction to his railway is here.
Essays that review his art practice are liked here.
If you want to have a look at the ecological reserve, check this out.
For the full biography by David Craig and Gregory O’Brien, see this.
The death of this kind of person is a real challenge to me: am I changing my own part of the world as boldly? Could I be as green-politic, as consistently creative as that? Would I have the endurance to do it for that long? And of course, will I leave behind something as substantial as that? Great moral, creative, and political tests that only someone like this can help you measure.
The best kind of human, like Barry Brickell, is the one who makes you look up.