Barry Cleavin

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1939

The Umbrella #1

  • 1997
  • Etching
  • Purchased, 1998
  • 377 x 528mm
  • 98/121

Using the print medium to make biting comments on social and political attitudes, Cleavin combines visual and literal puns in this accomplished etching. The umbrella shape formed by black crows offers a bird's eye view and also refers to the crows of Japan, the Karas, which are seen as Hirakusha. This term is used for the survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 who still exist despite human hostility. Their collective darkness can also hint at impending doom and resembles the mushroom cloud which follows a nuclear blast. Cleavin's use of the umbrella image adds a sense of irony, by contrasting its protective function with the supposed safety of the ‘nuclear umbrella’.