Q – Could you introduce yourself briefly to our readers?
Born in Cirencester in 1953, I lived in Fairford and spent my early years growing up in the Cotswolds. The surrounding countryside has always been very inspirational to me. I then moved to Old Town, Swindon and from a very young age I became fascinated with old buildings, back alleys and secret places.
Q - How did you become interested in art?
As a child, I can remember making stuff and having a great sense of adventure. I would draw and paint my daily collection of stones, twigs, in fact anything that was ‘strange or unusual.’ I would make collages out of sweet wrappers etc. Then growing up in the 60’s, I was greatly influenced by the vibrancy of colour and the extremes of design, both in clothes and décor and I decorated my bedroom at the age of 12, painting large vibrant flowers directly on the walls.
Q - What inspires you most as an artist?
I am greatly inspired by nature and the unusual, the extremes of weather, patterns in reflections, shadows. I love being on roof tops and sketching chimney pots or lying on the ground and sketching a miniature forest of mushrooms.
Q - What is your favourite medium or media? Why?
I love oil paints, I love the way it can be spread and dragged, its buttery texture and the aroma. I have also had extensive training in furniture restoration and decorative paint techniques. Oil paints lend themselves to this form of art. I have recently become very enchanted with using India Ink and I’m currently using and exploring this medium.
‘The Snow Fall’ - oil on canvas (41cm x 49cm) by Bea Menier
Q - Could you tell us some more about your work?
I paint, I sculpt (in natural stone and ciment fondue), and I love working with print, making my own books and writing poetry and journaling. In 2005 I began an artist’s journal and have made a daily entry ever since. At the time of writing, I have produced 1,593 images in my journals documenting my journey through life.
My art is all about my internal response to the external world and I like to respond to external stimuli consciously using all five senses. My favourite quote is by Voltaire “All arts are brothers – each is a light to the other.”
‘Emergence’ - sculpture is Alabaster by Bea Menier
Q - How would you define your style?
I like to paint in a stylistic manner.
Q - What are your influences; artists from the past or present who inspire you?
I like artists who have approached their work with great depth, people like Heindrich Wunterwasser, Margaret Macdonald, Trace Goldsmith, John O’Carroll, Andy Goldsworthy to name but a few.
Q - How do you choose the subjects of your works?
They choose me.
Q- How do you prepare yourself for an exhibition or a show like the Open Studios?
I like to think that preparing for an exhibition is not just about showcasing my work. It is also about creating a sensory experience for people who come to visit. I like to show a few examples of past work and then focus on where I am in the now. I also like to display my journals – this gives my visitors a glimpse of my journey as an artist.
The artist's studio
Q- You took part in the Swindon Open Studios in the past, what did it bring to you?
It was a great time for connecting with people, I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with amazing people, each one of whom, left an impression and I valued their comments and shared time together.
Q - Are there territories (media, subjects, etc.) you want to explore in the coming years?
For me, art is an organic process and at the present time, I am drawn to creating art with natural substances like soot, sand, beeswax and just recently I have started to use coloured ochres, recently obtained from Clearwell Caves in The Forest of Dean.
Q - As an artist, what would be your dream?
I can honestly say that I am living my dream. I came across a quote some time ago which really resonated with me ‘Goals are dreams made manifest.’
Q - Could you share one thing that you have learnt in your own art practice that would be useful to other artists?
The one thing that I would like to share is to keep alive the vibrancy and wonder of what life is – The journey is more important than the destination.