Barry Cleavin

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1939

The hungry sheep look up - the final solution (3)

  • Purchased, 1999
  • Etching
  • 397 x 540mm
  • 99/260
  • 1997

‘The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed…’ is a line from Lycidas (1638), a poem by the English poet John Milton. One of Milton’s themes is the widening gap between those in power and the poverty-stricken population, whom he compares to hungry sheep. This suite of etchings is part of Barry Cleavin’s continuing investigation into the relationship between humankind and animals. The etchings show Cleavin’s characteristic mastery of the etching medium. In each work the use of aquatint creates a dramatic darkened background behind each sheep skull. The open mouth of the skull suggests a silent scream, which effectively conveys a sense of anxiety. Recognised as one of New Zealand’s foremost printmakers, Cleavin was born in Dunedin. He graduated from the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury and was senior lecturer in printmaking at the university between 1978 and 1990. Cleavin has received many awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship in 1983 and a Trust Bank Canterbury Art Excellence Award in 1997. He has exhibited widely in New Zealand and has participated in many international group exhibitions.