Beverley Johnson

Beverley is taking part in our coming Home is a Feeling show in Faversham on 13th and 14th November.

Describe what you do as a creative.

I am a printmaker living and working in Aylesford. My interest is based in the relief printmaking process particularly lino cutting. I am lucky enough to own a fabulous original Albion printing press on which to make my work. My linocuts are often based in nature, inspired by a Japanese aesthetic and have a simple graphic feel to them. I also love to experiment with collagraph, monoprint and collage.

Tell us about yourself.

I have lived and worked in Kent for most of my life. As the only daughter of an only daughter I grew up with a strong feminist belief which continues with my London based designer daughter and also my tattoo artist son who has been living in Auckland NZ for the last two years. For many years I worked as the director of my own Montessori nursery. The Montessori ethos provides great balance in learning and personal development which I continue to foster in my life.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

It’s a long time ago but when I was about seven my father made me a pair of stilts. I can still remember the effort involved in learning to walk competently on them and the joy they gave me so I have to say my first ambition was to join the circus.
I also wanted to be a poet. I still do actually.

How did you begin doing what you do?

I didn’t go to art school but I do have a degree in art history. I’ve also always explored different forms of creativity throughout my life from life drawing to photography. A few years ago a linocutting cutting course proved to be a turning point from which my printmaking practice has developed and flourished. I loved it and become a bit addicted. The process is very meditative and the technical skills very challenging both of which suit me well.

What turns on your creativity?

I believe creativity is one of the most powerful of human impulses. I am triggered by everything, in no particular order, nature, light, gardens, theatre, fashion, film, colour, music, poetry, texture, architecture, love, death, anger, joy.

What do you like best about your work?

I like the complexity of creating a print which requires two technical but very different processes, cutting and printing. I enjoy the making, the interpretation of a thought or emotion in the concrete realm. I also enjoy the collaboration of printmakers, the sharing of knowledge and the support of other printmakers. They really are an interesting group of artists to be around.

When were you most satisfied in your work?

I was very pleased with my Victoria Amazonica print of a large water lily pad. It was difficult to cut and even more difficult to print. Lots of missprints at first due to the large areas of black. And very happy when it was selected to be exhibited in a contemporary print competition in Cambridge. I was also pleased to have my Dungeness print selected for Turner Contemporary’s open 2021.

Describe a memorable response to your work?

People seem to respond well to my early piece Shadow Crane, a yellow sun overprinted with a smudgy black crane. They enjoy the peace and simplicity imbued in it and the Japanese aesthetic. I have also had a great response to the Dungeness print. I’ve been told by one woman that it evokes childhood holidays and the feeling of such an exquisite yet hostile place more than anything else she’d seen. She bought a print for her brother who shared those holidays.

What is the most exciting part of your work at the moment?

I’ve had a lot of interesting things happen recently from the Turner Contemporary to Chelsea Art Society selecting my work. But I guess it’s always the next thing that’s most exciting including a joint exhibition in Margate in 2022. I also enjoy meeting the diverse people who visit events like SEOS and the upcoming Home is a feeling exhibition. It’s fun to have the time to experiment and explore too.

What is your dream project?

Probably as I’ve said, it’s usually the next thing. Amazing opportunities seem to appear if you remain open to them so I don’t want to focus my energy on just one project. I’ll wait for the right thing for me to present itself.

Which artists / creative people are your heroes and inspiring figures?

I don’t really like the idea of heroes, they have a tendency to disappoint. But I find many artists’ work inspiring from the recent Paula Rego exhibition at the Tate, both brave and terribly distressing to the beautiful peaceful works of the Danish painter Hammershoi in the Copenhagen city gallery. I like the power of Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter’s work and the visceral paintings of Jenny Savill and oh so many more.

Your idea of happiness

Happiness is such a fleeting thing I much prefer contentment. So contentment would be to live in the moment, to appreciate beauty in all it’s forms, to listen more and talk less, to act without prejudice and to breathe.

What art/creativity related book should everyone read?

As a student of art history I read lots of books about art many of them dry and exclusive so my first choice would be Playing to the Gallery by the wonderful Grayson Perry which is supremely inclusive. Also for a younger generation Contemporary Art by Russell Tovey and Ribert Diament.

Tell us a lesson life has taught you.

Be patient, listen more, talk less, breathe.

Anything else you would like to add

Thank you for this opportunity.

Author: nathalieb