Painting Community: The Beautiful Work of Bev Jones

What is your name and what you do?

I’m Bev Jones and I paint pictures of the life around me. I live in Croydon, so it’s usually Croydon, sometimes it’s other parts of London, and usually street scenes. Sometimes it is little details of streets and most often it is of the people.

People are wonderful and people are terrible, they are where all the potential is, a lot of my scenes focus on people. A lot of what is important in my art is reflecting where we are at, living in this city, all together. Your average busy street in London has people from dozens of different backgrounds, countries, languages, cultures and we all get along together. Sometimes there is a bit of friction, but somehow 99.9% of the time we all get along together. We just get on with doing the things that make us tick.

To me, it is important to reflect the humanity of all of these people. Sometimes crowds can be anonymous, but a crowd has its own identity as well; it is built up of individuals and they are all just people like you and I.

For how long have you been painting this subject?

Probably four or five years, before that I did a lot of drawing. I didn’t do a lot of painting as I was working full time as an administrator for an anti poverty charity, they had the attitude of solving problems in poverty by creating community, helping people to feel part of something and build their own lives. I was there for seven or eight years, but I have done many things in that field; when I first came to London it was to work as a volunteer with a homelessness charity/

Rain Spirits, Acrylic on canvas

Where are you from originally?

Originally from Wales. I grew up in the middle of nowhere; it couldn’t be more different.

I find it interesting, that you have come from having worked with charity and concepts of community and then you have gone on to paint people and community. Do you think one inspired the other?

I came into charity work because that idea interests me - building communities together as a whole - this is just another way of expressing that.

Why paint?

I guess I always have drawn and painted. It was just time to explore that side of things a little more, and try to put that vision and understanding down. I worked in that area for years and it was time to start recording that and putting it out there in a different way.

Do you see your paintings as a documentary of our lives now in 2017?

It’s more about trying to understand it and express my connection to the world I'm living in.

It’s a process by which you connect to your environment?

Yes, inevitably as an artist you process what you see through your own experience, so a painting can't help but reflect the artist as well as documenting it's subject.

Do you have any main influences?

I’ve not had a lot of formal art training, virtually none let’s face it! But I love Lowrey’s work which I think comes across a fair bit, also Van Gogh and his use of colour. I also really like a lot of illustration work, I was very into fantasy books when I was kid and I loved people like Josh Kirby.

Crane Lights

What would you say has been the most pivotal moment in your art career so far?

The thing that I am happiest about is that Croydon University Hospital own two whole series of my prints and some originals which are on display there. A lot of people really enjoy seeing them there and get a lot out of it. That is the best thing for me.

It’s interesting you say that because did you know the Menier Gallery work for a charity called Paintings in Hospitals and the money they receive from the rent we pay goes towards this charity.

That’s great, and I think it’s a really important thing because hospitals can be dire.

What are your plans for the future, for your art?

I would like as many people as possible to see it, enjoy it and get something out of it and I don’t really have a definite path in mind for achieving this, but I just want to make sure that as many people as I can reach, are reached.

If you were to go back to yourself at the beginning of your artistic career and give yourself advice what would you say to yourself?

Just go for it and keep going for it. Just keep doing things and keep doing what feels right. You have to be yourself, it’s not something where you benefit from trying to do other people’s ideas or even your own old ideas. You have to recognise where you are and do the right thing for you at that point in time.  

Bev Jones will be exhibiting her fantastic urban scenes in Focus LDN's Spring Collection this February 28th - 4th March at the Menier Gallery in London Bridge.

Overlooked,  acrylic on canvas. 65 x 55 cm £900