Friday, June 14, 2013

Barrie Burr of Australia, Heraldic Artist.

The Coat of Arms and Badges of
Barrie Burr of Australia
I have a good friend who lives in Australia by the name of Barrie Burr. He is one of the forerunners to a new wave in Heraldry. I have watched Mr. Burr's work progress over the past several years, from something that was a bit stiff, to a new lively sense of captured motion and color.

Heraldry in whatever form it takes is a modern interpretation of a time when it was important to be seen across a battlefield, and for those who could not read or write, to be able at a glance recognize a particular person.

There are those today who, practice heraldry in its original forms. They use vellum, shell gold, and custom made paints from pigments which they have hand ground, and mixed. It is an exacting art form, which is oftentimes passed down from one master to another. I think those who practice this form of Heraldry have always been few in numbers. However in today's world, there seems to be an ever increasing demand for heraldry and or heraldic based art.

So what does a person do who has a desire to create Heraldic art but not the years either available or the desire to spend years in an Art School? They teach themselves. Barrie Burr has done just that. There is an entire world of Clip Art Heraldry out there. Most of it not good, but it is improving, and some artists are really taking it to the next level. Then there are quite literally the Legions of Heralds who represent the SCA world, and they use both hand painted work and electronic generated work. So the demand is there, and to that end; the Modern Medieval world is very much alive and kicking when it comes to Heraldry. To explore this growing world of digital heraldic art, I sat down with my friend Barrie Burr and had a short conversation...
The Coat of Arms and Badges of
Peter Latta of Australia

Q:Where is the Burr family name from?

A:From all of the research that I have done, “Burr” seems to be difficult to establish from where the name originates. Some say it’s from Anglo-Saxon times meaning “one from the fort or castle” Others suggest the name is even older than that. So who knows for sure! Due to different languages spoken, words meaning the same thing were possibly (more likely) to have been pronounced differently and so when spelling the word, it could/would take on different appearances. My particular line/s of Burr all predominately came from Bedfordshire for the past 300 hundred years with one notable coming from Lincolnshire. Either way, Burr is very common in the UK.

Q:What age where you when you fell in love with Heraldry?

A:Being an Englishman, I had always been aware of Heraldry.....having grown up around Woburn Abbey, the seat of the Dukes of Bedford. It was not until 1987 that my interest started to grow in it when I purchased my “family coat of arms” from a bucket shop in Belfast. I then started asking questions of my mother about our family history. She wrote down what information that she could and gave me certain documents to keep. Those documents are now within the family members in the UK. Then suddenly, in 1999, I was given an old computer to play with and I started messing about with shapes to create what resembled a coat of arms. Have been doing it ever since.

The Coat of Arms, and Badges of
Travis Smith of the USA
Q:Today there is a strong sense of "Branding" with business' and personalities. What is your take on it, in regards to Modern Heraldry?

A:As heraldry is long established and represents some sort of “legitimacy” or sense of “belonging”, perhaps a business that comes up with a “heraldic” style of company logo is trying to say “look at me”, as if to say that “I am established, I come from good stock and I want to be here for some time”. That says a lot about the strength of heraldry and its continued use in the world today.

Q:Do you think your years of involvement with the International and British Racing have given you a different perspective on Heraldry.
The Coat of Arms of Brian Jeffs
Of the USA

A:Both are very colorful, and very similar in that jousting/tournaments and motor racing are noisy and spectacular to watch. Well established civic Coats of Arms are also used to adorn modern day race driver’s helmets to show where they are from. If any thing, Heraldry has given me a different perspective of how the color scheme works on a race car, and does that design work in getting the sponsors name or logo “out there”. I have seen some really bad color schemes and logos on race dark red lettering on dark blue background

Q:Is it fun, creating art for yourself and your friends?

A:I find it very rewarding to sit down to do a coat of arms for some one weather I designed the arms or not, with the end result being my work is appreciated and liked. Not always the case though. But that’s life.

XIV Century Style, Funerary Effigy
David Baker of
The USA.
Heraldic Badge by Barrie Burr

Norman Kite Shield of the Arms of DS Baker
of the USA.

Barrie Burr can currently be reached at: