Fusing together heritage and modernity, Ben Jeffery is a captivating new figurative and landscape artist at Westover Gallery
Imagine a twenty-something artist growing up in Barnet, North London…you might be forgiven for conjuring up images of aerosols, urban art, pop art and the like. Although Jeffery has explored these avenues his current style is much more traditional and harks back to another era and a famous ancestor whose introduction to Jeffery prompted an early interest in the art world.
‘I always had a keen interest in art ever since my Granddad introduced me to the work of John Varley, the renowned 18th Century watercolour artist. The Varley’s are related to the Jeffery family.’
Like Jeffery, Varley also grew up in London and was actually born at the Old Blue Post Tavern in Hackney. Varley spent some time in his teens employed as a portrait painter, going on to become a professional painter and then a successful drawing master counting the famous Turner as one of his students.
A few generations later and Jeffery is following a similar route, he first realised he wanted to be an artist in secondary school. ‘A few classmates and I used to have bets to see who could draw the best portrait of someone. I really enjoyed going to school and showing them to see their reaction. I painted a portrait of my dad for a mock GCSE which got admired by the entire art class.’
Jeffery continued to study art to degree level although a lot about his technique is mostly self-taught. ‘I always wanted to paint with oils and come up with colourful detailed paintings, this wasn’t always well received by my tutors but my classmates were always quite impressed with what I came up with. It was then that I picked up methods and techniques to get the mark making I wanted with oil paints. It’s a case of trial and error a lot of the time, trying new ways of controlling the paint, from there my style has evolved.’
‘A lot of the time a painting evolves as I paint it. I always have a basic composition in mind but I let brush come up with the shapes and I choose colour almost on the spot. Other times I see an image in my head and quickly sketch it out. I normally work in two stages; I first paint the entire canvas in base colours. After it has dried I paint a second layer, adding more and more detail. After I finish a painting, I leave it a day or so before look at it again, this helps me pick up on areas that need changing.’
Jeffery’swork is fairly diverse ranging from portraits to landscapes in both pencil and oils; he uses vivid, bright colours to create a unique and modern style. ‘I also get a lot of inspiration from views around me and take the odd photo. My parents have a house in the Herefordshire countryside and one on the Isle of Harris, both have stunning views which constantly give me ideas.’
Jeffery’s figurative work is currently being exhibited at Westover Gallery in Bournemouth. For further information call 01202 297682 or visit www.westovergallery.co.uk . There is always complimentary coffee on the go, or a glass of fizz if you prefer.