Barry Thomas aka b'art homme is an artist and film maker born in 1955, Wellington New Zealand. His art and films have woven ground breaking paths since he attended University of Christchurch's Ilam School of Fine Arts in 1976. His 'Vacant lot of cabbages' saw him plant 180 cabbages (January 1978) in the shape of the word "Cabbage" on 'occupied' private land in the CBD of the Capital of New Zealand. The cabbages grew to fruition over the six months and artists, activists and public both cared for the cabbages and contributed to what the local press called 'art soap box corner'. The final week became the 'Last Roxy show' where many performers and events took place... notably contributions by Bryan McDonald with Commission for the Environment's help saw the whole site covered in native indigenous trees. Architect Ian Athfield designed and built a travelling caravan cottage to disseminate the mantra of 'save our forests' and Poet Ian Wedde screamed his anti Muldoon (the then Prime Minister) poem and Political activist theatre troupe Red Mole performed. Film Maker Gaylene Preston took large numbers of polaroid photographs and a huge free coleslaw party was held. Thomas then sacrificially burned the cabbages wearing a cassock and with his face painted half black, half white. Vacant lot of cabbages is seen as perhaps the earliest occupation as art, a forerunner to all intervention arts, participatory art, environmental and land art. Today's worldwide blossoming of guerrilla gardening, yarn bombing, site specific and conceptual art all hark back to its antecedent qualities hence its lasting value.
From 1983 Thomas went on to a successful commercial film making career during which he won many industry awards and a Gold Axis award in 1992 for his best car advertisement for Lada cars.
He then devised an alternative to television advertising and like the cabbage patch intervened these radical art advertisements over four years on two television stations (TV4 and the Sundance channel) over 100 rADz(R) were created with CNZ and NZFC funding and film maker/artists were even nominally paid by the TV stations to sell nothing into each station - right through out their daily schedules - including prime time. 500 minutes of airtime were contracted per collection per TV channel (of which 4 were created between 1997 and 2001).
Between 2000 and 2001 Thomas lived and worked in the UK making appearances at various arts festivals especially Rome's Festival of Brevity. Residing on a canal boat and working at Camden's Pirate castle as activities coordinator and resident film maker Thomas went on to change the focus of his rADz by taking them into communities in Manchester, Birmingham and London making short rAdz films with mainly less well off communities telling stories of their lives - using film and the making process a social change agent.
Since the early eighties he has also made his own paints and has run many workshops in paint making and painting.
He currently resides in Wellington New Zealand working as a bricoleur, artist and film maker.
His definition of art is:
ART IS ONLY LEADING, SEEDING RADICAL NEW MEMES IN THE PAVEMENT CRACKS OF CULTURE... FRAMING ELEPHANTS IN ROOMS
References: http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/2012/11/02/vacant-lot-of-cabbages-documentation-enters-te-papas-archives/ http://www.art-newzealand.com/Issues1to40/exhibitions10wnnr.htm http://muir.massey.ac.nz/handle/10179/3041 http://bat-bean-beam.blogspot.co.nz/2011/10/occupy-wellington.html http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.co.nz/2010/08/riders-of-storm.html http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/8127145/Te-Papa-buys-cabbage-art-show-mementoes http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/spectrum/20090628 http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=bWhH1fjliCwC&q=barry+thomas#v=snippet&q=barry%20thomas&f=false http://books.google.co.nz/books/about/Vacant_Lot_of_Cabbages.html?id=kUVRMQAACAAJ&redir_esc=y