In our new series, Conversations In Colour, we talk to people who, much like us, are inspired by and obsessed with colour. First up is London based artist, Venetia Berry, whose works explore the female form though organic lines and palettes of pastels. Her nudes celebrate women’s bodies, regardless of size, race or class, and aims to reverse the male gaze, so commonly found throughout the history of art. We caught up with her (virtually) at her family home in the Isle of Wight…
What is your earliest memory of colour?
“I went through many phases as a child, one being an obsession with the colour green. I refused to wear anything that wasn’t green, I had a green bike and everything! I was a huge tomboy and rejected anything that was remotely ‘girly’ and I think that is why I use pinks and lilacs in my work now; I embrace the femininity I once rejected so much.”
What colours are you particularly attracted to and why?
“As you can probably tell by my work, I love pastel colours. I love their delicacy and their innate femininity. I have always been drawn to more ‘washed out’ colours than bright, potentially garish ones. These types of colours evoke the idea of memory within artworks, in my opinion, almost implying the idea of seeing things through rose tinted glasses. There is a dreamlike quality to pastel colours, something other worldly. By using mainly pastels in my works, I can then add a dash or line of a brighter colour which then pings out of the painting.”
When did you start painting and have you always wanted to be an artist?
“I have always been a fairly creative person and I loved art, although I was never really any good until my last few years of school, when I became very passionate about painting. I actually wanted to follow in my mum’s footsteps and become a lawyer! I think being an artist is such a pipe dream that I didn’t really fully consider it as an option. I may have dreamt of it, but I never thought I would be lucky enough to be able to make a career of it and for that reason, I will never take it for granted.”
Tell us about your art, your process and who or what inspires you most?
“My work is all based on the female form, through abstraction I aim to celebrate the idea of the ‘everywomxn’ of all shapes, sizes and races. My aim is to not project my own white, privileged experience of being a woman, but I want womxn to look at my work and be able to recognise a feeling of femininity within my paintings, to be able to find something of themselves within my abstract figures. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I also want my works to reflect my search for inner calm and contentment.
I get the majority of my inspiration from seeing other artists work. I have really noticed over the numerous lockdowns and, therefore, gallery closures that my inspiration bucket isn’t as full as I would like it to be. However, Instagram can be a great way to create mood boards through the saved posts, and also reading up about artists that interest me. I love seeing other artists use of colour and often one glimpse or corner of a painting can inspire a whole body of work for me.”
Does your love of colour translate into other parts of your life?
“Yes, absolutely! Slowly but surely I am beginning to dress like my paintings. I have my fair share of pastel coloured suits and co-ords! This is definitely a new development within the last few years, before I would stick to wearing clothes that would make me blend in. I love a block colour, and am less of a fan of patterns on myself as I am not sure they suit me. I live with my boyfriend so there is a compromise that has to be made with the colour choices in our flat. There is a lot of colour, from a dark green sofa and mustard blankets to blue rugs kind of vibe. I have managed to squeeze some dusty pink onto the walls though. I really just love an abundance of everything. My walls are covered in artwork and there are piles of books and pots and flowers everywhere. It would be too much for some, but I love for my spaces to be a feast for the eyes. Everything was grey-ish at the beginning and I found my eyes being bored by the greyness. I need constant visual stimulation.”
Where can we see your work?
“A lot of my work is sold by Partnership Editions, a wonderful platform for emerging artists. They do 5 or 6 ‘drops’ a year of a small collection of works. I usually aim to exhibit my work every year, but sadly due to the pandemic, I now haven’t had a physical exhibition since 2018. I would love to be able to have a show some time this year! I have also done a few collaborations in the past with Paradise Row, Matches Fashion and Alex Eagle Studio.”
If you want to follow me along in the studio every day, give me a follow @venetiaberry where you can get a closer look into my practice, studio and processes. Thanks so much!”
Venetia wears: Ebba Lace Underwire Bra in a 32E and Paige Lace Trim Underwire Body in a UK14
Photography by: Venetia Berry and Georgia Rothman
Find Venetia here: @venetiaberry