Author(s): Patricia Fry
Helen Crabb, who signed her work 'Barc', was an eccentric, forthright artist. A source of encouragement and learning for many younger painters, she made an enduring mark on the NZ art scene. Patricia Fry's book puts the spotlight on Barc's thoughts, opinions and teachings, and offers a fascinating biography of an extraordinary woman. Born in 1891 and raised in the Manawatu, Barc studied in Sydney and London. Teaching art well became a passion and from the mid-1940s she ran classes in Wellington, demanding discipline and intelligence from her numerous students. Barc's life and ideas foreshadowed the development of a distinctly New Zealand movement in painting. She was a focus for new artists - the innovators of their day - and encouraged them to develop an artistic integrity that owed less to movements in Europe and more to their own perception of what was relevant to New Zealand and their own lives. Patricia Fry took lessons from Barc from her early 20s and became a close friend and confidante. Wherever she was, whatever she was doing - always art-related - Barc wrote for journals and magazines, and sent prolific letters rich with opinions, ideas and instructions for her students, friends and fellow artists. Inspired by this material, Patricia Fry has distilled a long life of creativity, enthusiasm and passion into a biography that is compelling and thought-provoking.