Hester Berry’s plethora of work is eye-wateringly impressive and her list of achievements, awards and dedication to the art world is equally admirable.
In 2011 Hester was not only heralded as the ‘Young Artist of the Year’ by ‘The Biscuit Factory Foundation’, a foundation which describes itself as, ‘a charity which aims to nurture and develop the practice and appreciation of the visual arts in the North East of England’ but she also won a travelling scholarship in 2008 by the Geoffrey Crawshay memorial, a fund that aims ‘to widen and enrich the holder’s aesthetic experience in a branch of the Fine Arts’. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that these grants were judiciously put to excellent use, and provided a springboard for Hester to solidify her presence within the art sphere.
Something I particularly love about Hester and her working process is the fact that she speaks about her collection of work not as final pieces (though they are) but rather as ‘explorations’, implying a tangible sense of self-effacement and true knowledge of her subject.
Appraising Hester’s work as a whole collection was, to not put too fine a point on it, staggering. A vast collection that includes a mixture of Brobdingnagian yet highly intricate collages, digitally remastered photographs, and overwhelmingly atmospheric oil paintings of land and skyscapes that all seem to leave you with that strange sense of lightness after viewing them. Escapism is the watch-word that immediately springs to mind, a feeling not only reserved for the audience.
I’ve met Hester, she’s an extremely eloquent person, and her work holds great meaning. It’s this enchanted world that she claimed as her own, which makes her art come alive. It’s a place where she can hash out and truly articulate what is going on beneath her hidden depths. Her mark-making becomes her vocabulary, her layering of colours, her grammar. For me, this is the most organic and inspiring way of an artist producing work. For her it’s not merely striving to reach a final outcome, it’s as much about the journey that she whole heartedly embarks upon, each time she picks up a sketchpad.
This is an artist who always seems to be on the hunt to better her practice; ever receptive to new ideas, and in particular ways of truly being a sustainable artist with the materials that she uses. Her integration of both her insight, inspiration and knowledge into her paintings make her pieces, although including often recognisable landmarks, into lands where magical things live.