Updated: May 22
My name is Beth Menzies. I am a mature student at Bradford College studying for a BA (Hons) in Visual Arts. In this piece, ‘Give Us Today Our Daily Bread', I was incredibly disturbed by the selfishness of people in the supermarkets, hoarding and panic buying and leaving nothing on the shelves for the elderly and the vulnerable in society. In particular, I was moved by an image in the local paper showing an elderly couple looking at empty bread shelves, holding an empty basket.
The title is a direct quote from the Lord’s Prayer. In these unprecedented times nobody can understand fully what has caused the pandemic and there are several theories in circulation. People are scared and I have encountered people who have prayed in desperation, people who wouldn’t usually turn to prayer. The idea behind the Covid-19 germ cell being on the empty bread shelf is to portray the message of complete disregard for the elderly. In the supermarkets, the only thing left for the elderly is the Covid-19 germ to pick up and take home.
Q. This piece of work feels particularly emotive, given its current context. Can you tell us a bit more about how you say you subconsciously visualised your own grandfather within the painting?
The man in the painting has an uncanny resemblance to my Grandfather, this was a subconscious outcome. At the time I began painting this work, my Grandad was in self isolation at his care home with suspected Covid-19. Sadly, he passed away 4 days later from Pneumonia. No one will ever know if he was positive or not. His coffin was sealed and we managed to get a glimpse of the hearse, sat at a distance in my car. I was unable to attend his funeral due to being high risk. 10 close relatives were allowed to attend, however 5 attended. We watched the funeral online via a link but unfortunately it crashed and we only had a few moments to pay our respects. I then came home and finished this art piece, determined to do my grandad proud. I would conclude that subconsciously characteristics of my grandad are in the work as he was at the forefront of my mind.
Q. Can you tell us a bit more about your practice as a whole and what inspires your work?
As an artist my practice is very experimental. I began as a painter with mostly watercolour landscapes and animals then when onto acrylics which is now definitely my preferred medium. I like to add 3d to my work so will add in collage or build up an area with paper machè. I enjoy trying new techniques balloon splats, acrylic pours, blowtorch art, to name a few. I am an accident prone so have to redecorate my kitchen on a regular basis. I have changed my practice of late exploring installation art and interactive.
I tend to use art as more of an expression than for commerce, although I have sold work privately over the years. I want my work to mean something, and in particular with relevance to social issues, but I do incorporate a sense of play in some of my pieces, as I’m a down to earth Yorkshire lass with a very warped humour.
Q. How do you feel your practice has evolved through creative education?
My work has evolved since I have been in creative education - I would say it has matured and I have refined my ideas. My work has more focus and I make art that reflects what is important to me, however I still do some pretty crazy art that is just a fun expression. I feel strongly that it is important to enjoy what you do, as that is when you are most likely to thrive.
To see more of Beth Menzies work click the link below