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Rambling in Robin Hood territory…

Bear with me on this post.

Maria BeadellIt's likely to be a long one as I’m in a particularly reflective mood. I’ve been away this week, you see, on my annual trip to the English countryside with my brother who suffers from severe autism. Although caring for a severely disabled young man is stressful at times, being out of the big smoke for a week, in the peaceful, meditative surroundings of Sherwood Forest is restorative and a welcome break.  But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ever so slightly anxious about being away from my easel and brushes. The Urban Art Fair is ever present in the back of my mind. Last week I was stressing about the hanging; this week it's all about which of my art works I’m going to actually include in in the Fair.

Over the years, despite being mainly a ‘part time’ artist due to financial constraints- I’ve managed to build up quite a portfolio of varied work. But it's often been stressed to me that I should develop work along a particular theme, painting style or other recognisable device. “Just look at successful artists like Banksy, Dali or Warhol, all of their most famous works are instantly identifiable. You know when you see one” A good friend told me recently.    But like my drinks, I do like mixing (!).  Although my work always features a central portrait with surreal twists, I do like chopping and changing painting style, theme or medium. I've experimented with a Warhol-esque, Dali-esque and illustrative cartoon styles. I’ve played with expressionism and cubism.  I've made works about religion, politics, gentrification, culture, FGM, endangered species, gender, sexuality, fetishes, fear, love, loss and death. So should I just carry on and put up this mishmash of all this work to show my range, or should I limit my display?

Like most mad artists no doubt, sometimes I’ll get bursts of inspiration and I'll be fixated on certain things and paint a whole series of works based on them.  A few years ago, for example, I read a book called 'Women Who Run with the Wolves’; a beautiful book that encourages women to reconnect with their ‘inner wild nature’.  It inspired me to paint wolves as representatives of female sexuality and femininity as it should be: unharnessed, abundant, wild and free. Just like Mother Nature herself.  So first I painted She-Wolf (see image); a sexy were- woman in the night forest, snarling face covered in blood, she looks like she's been disturbed after a kill.  I felt that this painting perfectly encapsulated everything I had read in this book, and how I felt at this time in my life.

Around the same time, I felt compelled to spend time in the great outdoors. So I took myself off to Japan, Spain, Canada, Chile and Argentina to hike mountains, swim in lakes and see wildlife up close. While doing so, I had some amazing experiences which inspired me to paint Nature Spirit and Little Red Riding Hood (see my website link below). Both depicting wolves again; but in slightly less menacing settings. These paintings are all about reconnecting with nature and spiritual growth, which is why they might seem so much more benign and peaceful!  

So after much thought and deliberation, I decided to include not only the ‘wolves’ (as I like to call these paintings) in the Fair, but also a mish-mash of all my other paintings that are not on the same theme.  So if I am keeping to any sort of theme, the warped wolf/ animal/woman hybrid is probably the closest to one you'll see in my display. You'll probably think. ‘Oh, she loves painting wolves and half naked ladies' then you'll see some totally unrelated piece and you'll be confused. But luckily I don't want my work to make too much sense. I just want it to be interesting and authentic and to show what I can do. And if I can achieve that- let alone actually sell anything - then I'll be happy *

If you’ve got to the end of that long rambling stream of consciousness then I salute you.  If you come back for the final instalment next week then I probably owe you a watch this space!

*But I would really like to sell something…(!)

Maria Beadell is a figurative oil painter based in South London. She paints portraits with a surreal, humourous or sexy twist, and will be exhibiting at Stand 23Hd at the Urban Art Fair.

Visit the website