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News > Careers > Hester Berry

Hester Berry

Since very early on, I knew the career path I would choose - I am lucky enough to have been living and working as an artist since I finished my MA four years ago.
24 Nov 2013
Exmoor oil on board
Exmoor oil on board
  My art lessons at West Buckland gave me so much to take to University and beyond – I still find inspiration from memories and old sketchbooks born from trips to St. Ives, Berlin and Paris.  Nigel Minard, Robert Cook and Nikki De Marco provided a huge wealth of experience and information on the subject and I felt fully prepared when I arrived at Aberystwyth University to study for a Fine Art degree. 
My time there included very traditional studies in painting and drawing techniques, as well as more contemporary approaches to making art.  We also had a good solid foundation in Art History, which I have found to be invaluable in informing my subsequent work, and in understanding modern and contemporary artists.  I had a fabulous three years, indulging in the student lifestyle, as well as throwing myself into my art and studies.  I loved learning about and painting the Welsh landscape, and the lectures and seminars on 19th Century European art have remained with me and played a huge part in my life since. 
After enjoying an art school environment so thoroughly, I decided to continue my studies on an MA course at UAL’s Wimbledon College of Art.  This was a huge culture shock!  For a start it was alarming having to find my way around London, and get acquainted with all the most important galleries and cultural districts while keeping up with the pace of a big city.  The course itself was very different.  I was relieved to have had such comprehensive instruction in actual practice, as well as history, because there was none of that here.  However, Wimbledon taught me a whole new set of skills essential to surviving and being taken seriously as an artist.  I learnt how to engage with the art world of today and how to look critically at my own work.  It was quite an intimidating experience, but like all difficult situations, it made me and my work stronger, and it truly opened my mind.  At this time, I was living with music students – I learnt a lot about the music world and I think this had an impact on my work.
I married one of these musicians and we moved to Brighton, attracted by the colour and bohemian eccentricity of the place.   Brighton is superb in its abundance and variety of outlets for the creative arts – we’ve been to some inspiring talks, concerts, poetry readings, festivals, etc.  The visual arts are everywhere and accessible to everyone.  I joined a life drawing class, and quickly started teaching there.  Over the past three years, I’ve enjoyed one of the biggest and most colourful communities of drawing/painting enthusiasts in the South East.  The studio, Draw, is small but wonderfully run.  I teach drawing and painting there, as well as having set up a regular Art History/Theory discussion group.  I also help with Draw’s lively and popular events, which include elaborate sets and themed life drawing. 
Alongside my teaching, I continue to paint for commissions and exhibitions all over the UK.  As well as portraits and landscapes, I have produced work documenting environmental/social issues, including pollution problems, the proposed third runway at Heathrow and various windfarms around North Devon.  I’ve also done a lot of research into responsible and sustainable practice.
Having such a wide and diverse network of creative friends has helped me in my ongoing career as an exhibiting artist.  Teaching helps me review my own techniques and approaches, as well as giving me a break from my own paintings.   At times life and work is challenging - it is certainly not a stable career path, and the future is even less certain than in other jobs.
The art world is not a sensible or lucrative one, but if you are in love with it, there is no other place to be!

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