Name: Hester Berry
Location: Brighton UK
Brief artist’s statement:
My fantastical landfill constructs are a meditation on the convoluted nature of modern life, as well as an illustration of the idea that pollution of every description encroaches on our fragile and overburdened environment, to the detriment of all. By combining traditional landscape with an illustration of my cynicism of the aggrandisement of commercialism and accelerating urbanisation, I initiate discourse on important social themes. My painting is therefore an attempt to connect the visual and culturally familiar experience of the landscape with its visceral, reflexive equivalent, so that the viewer can identify with the pleasures of the existing but endangered ‘great outdoors’, and also become more aware of issues which imperil our fragile and beautiful planet.
How did you become an artist?
I have always known I would be and studied art at school, university and to post grad level.
Did you always dream of a life in the art-world?
How has your education helped your career?
So many different teachers brought a wealth of influences; a traditional BA taught me how to paint and a contemporary MA taught me how to think.
Do you work as an artist full-time?
Yes, although I do the odd cheap bit of labour to be able to eat.
Describe your typical day. Do you have a routine?
I get up and do some admin. Then I walk my dog, and do some more admin, drawing or painting. Some evenings I go to a life drawing class, and some I watch pretentious foreign films and do more painting, whilst drinking cider!
Which historical and contemporary artists do you refer to most often?
How are you influenced by their work?
Turner and Rembrandt for their painting techniques; Monet and Cezanne for their way of seeing; Bosch for his chaos and monsters; Manabu Ikeda for his meticulousness; David Tress for his ridiculously energetic cakey paint application; Grayson Perry for his cynical view of the world and his tongue-in-cheek attitude to making art.
What are the other influences on your work?
Progressive Rock – Gentle Giant, Genesis and King Crimson for their lack of inhibition and proud virtuosity; Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Salman Rushdie and Hayao Miyazaki for their beautiful artistic license; The ‘Three Colours’ Trilogy by Kieslowski; Jacques Brel for his squeezing every drip out of a performance; Steam-punk.
What was the last exhibition you visited?
A performance around London by Platform.
What is your favourite art gallery?
Tate Britain and Haunch of Venison.
What are your experiences of the ‘art-world’ and the business of art?
There is so much rubbish to wade through! And gallerists can be real bastards. One guy buggered off with my earnings at the end of my exhibition! Also people mainly want to buy nice landscapes.
Do you have any tips or advice you wish you had known earlier in your career?
I wish I’d learnt a wider base of artistic skills, especially 3D media.
Do you have a quotation that you keep coming back to and that keep you going? Have you a motto that gets you through?
We live in an age of mediocrity, where the average is celebrated and canonised!
Which historical artist do you think is over-rated? Why?
Gainsborough. I don’t think he’s at all bad, I think he just gets too much credit.
Do you or would you use assistants to make your work?
I don’t see how, I work very directly. I’d have to think about it.
Do you use social networks? if so, how and which ones do you find most useful?
Facebook and Twitter. I hate that it has come to this, but they’re actually essential in self-promotion.
Which artist should we all look up immediately? What art magazines, blogs or sites should art lovers be looking at?
Ikeda Manabu, and me.
Finish this limerick: There once was an artist from…
There once was an artist from Blackheath,
Who sat on his pair of false teeth,
He jumped up with a start,
“Good Lord, Bless my heart!
I’ve bitten myself underneath”