Welcome to Autumn at the Mill Tye. Where the trees along the banks of the river Stour turn wonderful shades of orange and red. Ducklings, that are born in the summer months and live on the pond on our doorstep, are getting ready to fly the nest. And new, local artists grace our gallery walls at the Autumn exhibition.
One of those artists is Bury St Edmund based Bev Howe who will be displaying a collection of 20 wonderfully distinctive and vibrant paintings.
Each piece is reflective of her overactive imagination. Dreams, folklore, tattoos, the insect
world, and memories of her father's garden all feed into her work.
It’s highly recommended that you visit these pieces in person to really get the full impact. Not only will you be completely immersed in the sheer power of her passion for colour but will also keep discovering so many new areas worked into the finely detailed artworks on display.
We caught up with the artist to find out more about her work and the inspirations behind it.
Mill Tye: What inspires your work?
I can honestly say I'm inspired by anything and everything! The problem is deciding what I want to paint and what to leave out. I have lots of little toys and ornaments that I've owned for decades, waiting to be included in pictures. Gardens and animals are infinitely inspiring because they have so much of their own personality to include in a picture. Faces never cease to interest me. My next move is to incorporate hand-lettering into a series of pictures, unless I get distracted by something else first!
MT: How has your practice changed over time?
Over time, my practice has rambled all over the place! Ironically, I've been working in a very busy, detailed and meticulous way for the past few years which harps back to drawings and paintings I made shortly after leaving art school. They're also including idiosyncratic elements of magic and story-telling, as they did back then.
My aim, at this point, is to get back to basics and strip back some of the detail; bringing in flat, bold shapes, alongside all the rambling foliage. I have great admiration for artists who manage to get simplicity "right" - it's not as easy as it seems. For this reason, one of my favourite pieces of recent work is a profile of a male head against a purple background, with just a few flowers around his head. The picture was made a few years ago now and I love the way I've managed to let the body be a flat patterned shape and the eye "wrong" in terms of realism. I find working with paper collage and fabric applique a good way to reduce objects to their basic forms.
From the attentiveness and overall impact of Bev’s paintings, it’s no surprise that she’s not a stranger to the art of illustration. Graduating from Norwich School of Art in 1990 with a First-Class Honours Degree in Illustration, she has always had art at the core of her passions.
As with the nature of life, other things find a way of making it challenging to solely focus on a passion. Now, Bev is making her passion, once again, a priority. As she says:
I've always had something I'm painting, making, or modelling going on in the background but, since turning 50-years old, I'm making my artwork my priority. I've realised that "if not now, when". It's both exciting and terrifying to put up a whole exhibition. It's great to get lots of positive comments on Facebook, when I post a new piece of work, but not the same as people seeing the real thing and, hopefully, appreciating the smaller details and time that I spend on paintings.
MT: What’s the best piece of art-related advice you’ve been given?
One of the best pieces of advice I was given was by a tutor at Ipswich art school, in the late 80s (I was 17/18 years old). I was grumbling about whether art was right for me; about whether I should give it up. My tutor told me to give myself permission to stop, leave what I'm doing for a few days and see if I want to come back to it. I always want to come back.
MT: Who are your favourite artists / illustrators?
As with the things that inspire me, there are an infinite number of artists that I like. I am interested in a lot of the old 16th/17th century Dutch masters - Cranach, Messys, etc. I love the allegorical paintings and drawings of Hieronymus Bosch and Bruegel.
MT: Do you have a dream project / goal when it comes to your art?
Regarding my artwork, my aim is to keep going! Now, I have a small collection of work that I'm quite happy with, I can see I've jumped from theme to theme quite noticeably. My next step is to go back and create more pictures from those starting points. For example, I've included two paintings called Totem I and Totem II, in the Mill Tye exhibition. I have a dozen more variations of these in my sketchbooks, which I'd like to bring to life.
MT: Advice to others looking to do the same and pursue their passion?
My advice to others is to not spend too much time looking at the work of others. It's very easy to put yourself off as the world is awash with beautiful creations. You can lose days, weeks, months that way. Time that could have been spent cutting your own, unique path.
And to summarise with one final quote from Bev about her work and the world around it:
“The closer I look at the world around me and consider its relationship to the ideas in my head, the more fascinating it becomes. Faces, words, plants and birds, new things and antiques, reflections and shadows, the list is endless and all of it has the potential to influence the cultivation of a satisfying image. I invite the viewer to make up their own narrative in my work."
So, create your narrative.
Come and enjoy the offerings of Autumn at the Gallery. Immerse yourself in the vibrant work by Bev which will be on display from 4th to 26th September.
Saturday 4th September
from 11am to 7pm.
To RSVP go to ...
Exhibition continues until Sunday 26th September 2021