Venetia Berry is a British artist using the female form, line drawing and colour to create her stylistic artworks. Her inspiration is always the female nude and she uses pure lines to simplify the body and abstractly depict the human form. Venetia has exhibited at galleries across London including Noho Studios, Saatchi Gallery, Alex Eagle Studio and Hauser and Wirth. She has also worked and collaborated with the likes of Paradise Row, Augustinus Bader, Desmond & Dempsey and Help Refugees UK. Her work can be purchased through Partnership Editions where new pieces of hers are released each month.
We visited Venetia in her beautifully bright and colourful studio on a blustery February morning to talk about her work as well as her inspiration and the places that inspire her the most.
Can you tell us a bit about your education and career path so far?
I first studied out in Florence at Charles Cecil, where my passion for art was really solidified. I had a place at Bristol to read Politics, but after meeting lots of Leith School of Art students in Florence, I managed to get a last minute place at Leith up in Edinburgh. I studied painting at Leith and was in Edinburgh for three years. I then moved back down to London and studied at the Royal Drawing School in Shoreditch for a year. Since then, I have been in my studio in Brixton. I’ve now had three solo exhibitions, two at Alex Eagle Studio and my most recent one at Noho Studios.
The female form is the driving force behind your work – what about it continues to inspire you?
I spent most of my young life as a very devout tomboy, rejecting my body and its femininity. I now think part of my work is about embracing that part of me I spent so many years rejecting. It is amazing how many people have a continued battle with their bodies. I would like to be the person who helps people realise that we are so much more than our bodies! A lot has changed in the last few years, but so much more needs to be done in the media. I am not sure I will ever tire of the female form, it means so much to me in so many varying layers and I love to be able to work with it in such an abstract way.
What is your biggest career achievement to date?
I was really proud of my last exhibition, ‘Stretch Marks’ at Noho Studios in 2018.
Any favourite colour combinations?
So many! I love pink and red, or pink and green, anything with French ultramarine!
Which city or place in the world inspires you the most?
Such a tricky question! I really love New York. One of my sisters lived there for five years and I used to visit fairly regularly, but I haven’t been back for a few years. I just love walking around MOMA. There is such a buzz to New York that I haven’t found anywhere else. There is almost an anxiety to that kind of inspiration – so much going on and so little time! If I was looking for a more tranquil way to be inspired, I immediately think of Italy and the beautiful colours and light. I am a Londoner at heart though and I can find inspiration easily wandering around or through the countless wonderful shows that London has to offer.
What items in your studio could you not live/work without?
I love my mood board, it has been the same for ages, but I love how something can catch my eye and inspire me in some way. I also love my art books. I would be pretty lost without my kettle and sofa too!
Are you reading anything right now?
Yes, I love reading. I am finishing off ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernadine Evaristo and I am just starting ‘Late in the Day’ by Tess Hadley for my book club. I have also just finished listening on audible to ‘How to Break Up with Fast Fashion’ by Lauren Bravo.
When you’re not busy in the studio, what do you like doing?
I love cooking and testing out new recipes, or just flicking through cookery books. I love spending a Saturday at the pub with friends or going and hanging out with my family and my 18 month old niece. I also love going to exhibitions, although I am usually quite anti-social and much prefer going alone.
Is there a place for sustainability in your work?
Definitely. I am so keen to be as sustainable as possible. I have recently stopped buying any art materials with animal product in; you would be surprised at how many do! I now work a lot more with water-based products – when working with oils there are so many chemicals involved that are harmful to the environment. I try to waste as little paint as possible too. My main problem is when I order my materials from other companies; they come in so much plastic packaging. I keep it all and try to reuse it, but sometimes it is so unnecessary.
What is your favourite Evermore scent and why?
I adore Moon. It’s such a timeless and delicious smell – I can’t imagine ever getting bored of it and I can’t imagine anyone not liking it. I love how it’s smoky and musky, but not too heavy.
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