lead barnerds

lead barnerds

On New Years Eve 2023-24 in a pub called The Bull, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a lovely couple, Gerry and Lin, who incidentally publish this magazine. Gerry was to perform the cabaret act later that evening, and he and My Creator clicked instantly as they propped up the bar supping beer and exchanging stories.

Then the subject of art cropped up. My Creator, as I call him, who goes by the pseudo name of Barn and whom I can only describe as a scruffy arty sort, reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the silver tin that he keeps little lead sculptures of me in. He opened it and placed seven copies of me on the bar top in front of Gerry.

group of seven lead barnerds

“They’re called BARNERDS for want of a name, a nerd you met in a bar, thats me!” Then Barn asked, “So which one talks to you ?”

Gerry’s eyes narrowed as he studied the group, then he picked one up between forefinger and thumb, “It’s heavy for such a small sculpture,” he said.
“That’s 'cos it’s made of lead. I cast a thousand of them, I’ve only got about a hundred left.”
“Umm lead eh,” Gerry pondered, “Where did you get the lead from?”

Now I’ve noticed a lot of people ask that question when given a copy of me, and My Creator always tells them the same story about when he was a kid, and his grandfather gave him seven old lead musket balls.
“He said they were from The English Civil War, objects designed purely to kill and maim, whereas I remould the lead into pieces of art.”
“How did you make a thousand of these out of just seven musket balls?” Gerry asked, doing the maths.
“Ah I made the rest of the mix up with lead that I nicked off a church roof, ha ha !" He laughed at his own joke.

Barn went on to explain that for the past quarter century he had been distributing these little lead sculptures all around the planet.
"North, South, East and West. I leave them in interesting places, some to be found, others not, to reside there for eternity! But mainly I just give them to nice people I meet on my travels, often folk I get chatting to whilst sitting at the bar in pubs or cafes, or I give them to waiting staff and street buskers as tips. Mind you, I always ask them if they want to except a BARNERD first, I don’t want to force my art on people, and if I get the chance I bless them and ask that they wish for World Peace and Global Stability.” Barn elaborated on his wish, “World Peace as in to stop the wars we humans inflict on each other and Global Stability as in super volcanos, earth quakes, asteroid strike, etc. This beautiful planet that we all live on is very fragile, we need to respect and look after it," he added.

With that Gerry ordered two whisky’s; they chinked glasses, shook hands and toasted the wish.

barnerds are tiny

“How do you make these Barnerd’s?” Gerry went on to ask.
“Oh easy! I melt the lead in a ladle over hot embers then pour it into clay moulds in batches of seven. Seven's my lucky number. Then, when the casts are cool enough, I knock them out of their moulds and then I hold each copy of The BARNERD aloft, I bless the universe and make my wish.”
“And what's this strange pose The BARNERD’s supposed to be in?" Gerry inquired as he studied me more closely.
“It’s got one arm wrapped over the head and the other wrapped under the chin; it’s giving itself a cuddle of sorts.”

My Creator demonstrated and Gerry immediately imitated the pose. Anyone watching the two ageing gentlemen sitting at the bar in this peculiar position could be forgiven for thinking that they’d had one too many...

“I’ll keep my BARNERD safely in my wallet until I find a nice place to put it on my canalboat,” Gerry promised.
“Wow you live on a canalboat!” Barn exclaimed, “I’ve scattered a few copies along towpaths over the years, maybe some of your readers have found one”.
“Who knows,” said Gerry. “ I’d be interested to hear from anyone that has."
“You probably will,” I mused to myself.