BEVAN, Tony: ‘My Art’


Image: Royal Academy of Arts

On Sunday 16th October 2016, at Cartwright Hall, Bradford, the Royal Academician and Bradford-born artist, Tony Bevan, spoke about his early motivation to become a painter.  This was part of a major retrospective exhibition of Bevan’s work at the gallery between 2016-17.

” I grew up with painting and sculpture around me. My grandmother was a ‘Sunday painter’ and my grandfather and had spent about 35 years in Africa, so we had a lot of African sculpture, and I soon realised that these were not just decoration, but had other purposes …  they affected my imagination. My bedroom was next to these sculptures, and I was convinced a female sculpture was calling my name.”

Bevan, Tony; Tender Possessions; British Council Collection;

‘Tender Possessions’. Image: Art UK/British Council Collection

“My grandmother let me handle her paints and this had a impact on me too. Ever since I have never ceased to be surprised when working by the element of paint – the earth pigments; the metal pigments – they interest me. Charcoal too; each piece is very different; each piece will work in a different way. It is the behaviour of materials I like. I often work on the floor on my hands and knees in physical contact with material … I like the debris created by charcoal and I will often lock it into the canvas with acrylic paint.”


Image: ‘The Guardian’.

“The Bradford schools I went to had a big emphasis on art. There was a kiln in one of the schools, and we did life drawing, too. A pupil sat in the centre and we drew him or her. The result was so many pupils became good at drawing. I did a lot of drawing, and I would draw my own world of imagination. All the art schools I went to were good too. At Bradford College we worked quite long hours, sometimes to nine at night, and experimented with all types of materials. Bradford is where I got interested in printing and could experiment with inks … I found that the best teachers were those that let you try out your own ideas.”

“For me, painting is contemplative by nature. It is an access into a metaphysical space … I’m interested in exploring these imaginative spaces, particularly the movement, the transition from one space to another and the metamorphosis that occurs.  My self portraits [for example] I never see them as just to with appearance, but about exploring landscapes inside my head and the connections to the body.”


Image: artist’s website.

 See the full profile of Tony Bevan at

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