Artists’ Case Studies: Beverley Hicks
Case Study 4
Beverley Hicks, Painter: Airton
Where did you train and/or how did you begin your career as an artist?
Many of my family members are or were painters, so from a young age I was introduced to Art and Artists; my love of painting thus started at an early age. I completed a B.A.Hons in Fine Art and a M.A. in painting and sculpture at Newcastle University.
What was most helpful to you in the early days of establishing yourself as a successful practitioner?
I have always found it important, and enjoyable to look at others’ work, visiting Galleries, finding inspiration from a wide spectrum of contemporary Art practice, often outside the sphere of painting. Also I have felt it important to understand what help and advice is available; as such, after leaving University I contacted Northern Arts, and applied for and won a grant to help me with my professional development. Keeping abreast of competitions, events and exhibitions is crucial.
What do you think have been the most important /pivotal events or moments which established you as a successful practitioner?
I won a scholarship from Newcastle University to travel Australia; this proved to be pivotal to my Artistic development. I exhibited the work that I had produced in Australia in Queensland House, London, and this led to other openings for me. On seeing the positive effect Australia had on my work I travelled further; extensively throughout Europe and the USA. The work produced on these trips subsequently led to me being shortlisted for the Nat West Art Prize and The Pizza Express prize. These successes secured in my mind that I was most definitely travelling along the right path in my life.
Is there anything you would have done differently or you wish you had avoided?
To be successful you always have to have a very professional approach to where you show your work, as a young Abstract painter wanting to start out you may be tempted to say yes to any Gallery, and at times I think I did that. If your work is not going to look good in a space, for whatever reason, be it who else is showing there or how it is hung, sometimes you have to say no. Research about a gallery or organisation that wants to promote you, look at the work they currently show to ensure it is sympathetic with your own.
What advice would you give to someone starting out now who is working in your medium?
My advice to a young painter would be: love what you are doing, have a good website, with good clear images, network, have a well written statement which is honest about why you are doing what you are doing. But most importantly always bounce back after you did not get a reply from that gallery, you were not shortlisted for that competition, and you sold nothing in your first exhibition, even though they all said they loved the work!
Do you have any particular ambitions for the future?
To continue to develop my painting, exhibit more widely in the UK and further afield.
Anything else you would like to say about your career development?
I love what I do, and it is always lovely to hear people’s comments about my work. I suppose that is one of the reasons why I continue to be part of the North Yorkshire Open Studios each year as people come to my home and feel more relaxed to ask about my work. Lastly, my Art practise and its development are very much a part of me, and when the media or whoever question Art’s place in society, I like to remember what Jasper Johns said:
“Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it”