Meet the Artist: Bethany Perry

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Meet Bethany Perry, an artist with an eye for the physical form. Bethany focuses on body impressions, abstract pieces, and nudes with an emphasis on female empowerment, body confidence, and mental health.​

Q: Who are you and what do you do?

A: I am a British multi-disciplinary artist based in London. Most of my works are body impressions and paintings and I am inspired by performance art and self-development. I explore the human connection to the self, modern perceptions of beauty, and social pressure that hinder our health and happiness. 

Q: What is your background?

A: I grew up in a small village on the Hampshire/Wiltshire border. The “small town” conservative attitudes and Christian traditions had me anxious to break out and explore the world. Traveling alone and moving to London helped me “de-layer” the conditioned beliefs and ideas that made me feel trapped and uncomfortable. 

After completing an Illustration HND in Swindon in my very early twenties, my drive for art and connection directed me into the makeup industry where I thrived. I was able to work on-set with celebrities, top designers, big brands, and inspiring teams. Although I loved this work and all the opportunities that came with it, it led me to become ill and exhausted. The fashion industry exasperated issues I had with my own ideas and perceptions of beauty, and I struggled to manage my mental health. Somewhere deep inside I knew this lifestyle was damaging to my health. Towards the end of my twenties, I had a breakdown that led me to explore a different source of self-expression.

Dancing has always been in my blood, as a child, I would dance for hours at concerts and local events. Dance and movement were always a form of therapy for me in my teens. Every part of me felt alive and happy when I danced, so when I burned out, I leaned into this practice more. One night a close friend convinced me to audition at one of the biggest strip clubs in the country, and the rest was history.

This proved to be the biggest breakthrough for my soul and for me as an artist. I danced nights in the club for 5 years and my body impressions pay homage to that practice and search for self-liberation.

Q: How do you work?

A: I started body impressions in 2016. I love the female form and felt that brushes weren’t expressive enough. They were not translating the truth and vulnerability as I wanted them to. Body impressions transcribe the physical form in a very raw literal sense. This method nourishes and grounds me. It pulls me into the present and feels instinctively authentic. They are a pure exposure of ‘the self’; no lies, no cover-up, and they are beautiful. I am also inspired by other artists that came before me; I have always been energized by the body of work from Yves Klein and David Hammons. Both used the human body to create works and the impressions they left, both figuratively and literally, always drew me in.

Body imprints are also a nod to my nights as an exotic dancer, I would often wonder how beautiful the stage would look if it revealed the marks and movements expressed by the body when it was moving and pressing against the floor. This process of painting and pressing the body is like a ritual. It is intimate and intriguing as each impression is unique and instant. This process is at the heart of my work, and more recently I have been using flowers and fruits, pressing them into my paintings. I have a strong urge to paint and press sentient beings onto things and I get a lot of satisfaction from doing it.

Q: What art do you most identify with?

A: Art that has passion, energy, and light. Art that makes me ponder and daydream, art that ultimately ignites my own creativity and love for life. Performance, installations, and good music move me the most. 

I will never forget watching Cai Guo Giang’s ‘Remembrance’, fireworks launched from four anchored barges in Shanghai. I was moved to tears after a few minutes. The visual display was so beautiful and impressive, every explosion in perfect synergy with the orchestra. I connected to this performance very deeply. The power of movement and music are huge emotional drives for me.

Q: What has been your favorite experience so far as an artist?

A: Stage performances at the club did wonders for my mental health and every time I entered the spotlight floor I felt at one with every part of my body. It was the most liberating and expressive experience I have ever encountered. My health turned around when I started dancing. I am grateful for the time I spent in that place. 

 

Q: Who inspires you?

A: When I am connected and “in the vortex” (as Abraham Hicks would say) I am inspired. Meditation and self-care are rituals I practice daily. For me, it’s acknowledging that there is a higher power of process guiding and supporting me. When I meet other people or see creations that communicate that “higher vibrational energy” it ignites my own creativity and drives me to express and play with ideas and concepts. 

Q: What is the best advice you have received?

A: “Listen to your gut.”

It’s not often my Dad dishes out advice. He enjoys his privacy and withdraws when things get emotional or traumatic. But I remember being at an extremely low point after my breakdown, I was staying at home with my parents and my dad hugged me very firmly and told me to listen to my gut, not my head because that voice won’t let me down. It’s always stuck with me, and it’s a fond memory because it came from a very soft and wholehearted part of him.

Q: When you are not working where can we find you?

A: Playing hide and seek with my one-year-old son, Ocean, taking walks in the park, and soaking up news sights and experiences. Oh, and drinking lots of great coffee.

Q: How has your career as an artist shifted during the past year?

A: I became a mother last year. Ocean turned one in February and it’s been a hell of a roller coaster and balancing act trying to parent and paint. Recently, my work has been very ‘earthy’ and grounding. Motherhood has transformed my art, the way it has transformed me into a more nurturing and compassionate human. Beautiful and testing shifts have taken place, I am more appreciative of my time, designing and creating things now feels far more nourishing and sacred. I have a strong social media following which continues to grow and art sales are rising, despite the fact the country has been shut down for nearly a year now, this fills me with more confidence as an artist, and a mother who is also an artist because I am making it work. 

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