Beth Morgan Q & A
Hi Beth! Firstly could you briefly introduce yourself and your practice?
Hello! My name is Beth and I am a painter based at The Art House. I absolutely love nature and colour, with my practice being about responding to the experience of walking within nature and the memories that this brings. This usually ends up becoming abstract paintings that are filled with bold shapes and vibrant colours.
When taking inspiration on your walks in nature you avoid using a camera and instead make notes and quick sketches. How do you transform these field notes into beautiful paintings?
When I’m out and about on my walks, I’m constantly making notes and sketches as you say. These are normally very quick sketches and notes about my surroundings but also thoughts and feelings. These notes probably won’t make any sense to an outsider, however when I’m back in the studio, I refer back to these while I’m painting. Each sketch or snippet of text prompts a memory which I then respond to using shape and colour in my paintings.
What motivated you to apply for this opportunity commissioned by Artwalk?
I’ve always been a huge fan of the work the Artwalk does and the support they offer, from starting as a volunteer to having the opportunity to exhibit work in both Jordan’s Solicitors and the Theatre Royal. I was motivated to apply as I had an idea, and knew that – if it was selected – the Artwalk Team would provide such a great level of support and help that it would be able to be made into reality.
What do you hope the people of Wakefield gain/feel from experiencing your work?
I’m hoping that my work will bring a sense of joy, happiness and relief. As it’s based on a walk around the landscape of Sandal Castle, I hope it highlights the natural beauty around Wakefield and gives the people of Wakefield a sense of ‘bringing the outside in’.
Your work is already showcased at The Art House and now has a permanent home in The Ridings too. Where would be your dream location for your next commission?
As I’ve done a lot of inside murals, I’d love to challenge myself and paint a mural that’s outside. I think the dream location for this would be somewhere like Kew Gardens, a botanical garden that showcases natures wonders. I think it would be a great project, creating a mural in response to a walk through the vast greenhouses of tropical plants. Maybe one day it will happen, I can only dream!
What do you think the art world can do to support artists like yourself as COVID restrictions are easing?
I think just continuing to provide opportunities for artists to progress and develop their practice. Over the pandemic there’s been an increase in online exhibitions, allowing artists to gain exposure in a different way and I think continuing this alongside physical exhibition, as well as commissions and financial support would be a good way to support artists as the restrictions begin to ease.
Do you think the pandemic has had a positive influence on how society now interacts with local nature and the outdoors?
Definitely! I think being told that we have to stay inside, and at one point being limited to an hour of exercise outside a day, has made society appreciate the natural world around them a lot more, especially after most people have had to work from home utilising the dreaded Zoom call to communicate with others. As restrictions started to ease, there definitely seemed to be an increase in people flocking to nature, like the moors and beaches. I think we all realised we took the freedom to be in nature for granted before, and having that taken away has made us appreciate being outside within it a lot more.
Nature plays an enormous role in your artwork. Do you think it also has an influence on your mental health?
It has a massive influence on my mental health, and definitely in a positive way. I find myself feeling calmer and content when I’m walking in nature. Even if it’s blowing a gale and the rain is soaking me through there’s nothing like it, it makes me feel alive. I think it’s the combination of exercise through walking, and being out in nature away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and constant screen time that has a real positive effect on my mental health, especially after the year and a bit we’ve had.
And finally if you could host a BBQ party with a group of artists who would you invite and what’s cooking?
What a great question! I think I’d invite Henri Matisse, he’s a big inspiration to me. I’d also invite Nicolas Party, Grayson Perry and Rebecca Louise-Law, her large-scale floral installations are breath-taking and I’d love to quiz her on her process! Food wise, you can’t beat a good old hotdog and burger. I’d definitely have to serve vegetable kebabs as well, you can’t beat some barbequed peppers!
Thanks for chatting with us Beth, we look forward to the unveil of your latest mural in The Ridings Shopping Centre!
Beth Morgan 'A Walk in Wakefield' Find out more here>