Andria Beighton: A Modernist’s Approach to Nostalgia
Andria Beighton’s art practice reflects years of experience as a designer, florist and artist. Based in Melbourne, she is a Rising Star on Bluethumb and is renowned for her clear-cut use of colour and balance within her still life paintings. Andria Beighton cites bold vintage textiles, the graphic nature of poster art throughout the mid 20th century, and the geometric forms of Brutalist architecture as sources of inspiration; the result of which is a super satisfying aesthetic that delights in simplicity.
Following the resounding success of her first solo show earlier this year, Andria Beighton reflects back on her journey that led her to the artist she is now, as well as the ability to adapt as an artist in the face of a pandemic and the repercussions within Melbourne’s art scene as a result.
To start off, could you briefly outline your background, and how this brought you to working as a full-time artist?
I’ve always been creative. As a child I would prefer to spend time making clothes for my dolls rather than actually play with them. In high school, every spare moment was spent in the photography dark room or in the art department. At 16, due to demand from friends and strangers, I had my first market stall selling clothes and jewellery I had designed and made. This would be the first of hundreds of markets I would sell various creations at over the years!
After several years working as a florist and managing an art store, I started my own design business which I ran for over 10 years. In 2018 I began to feel I had outgrown this business and wasn’t sure what the next step was for me. It was at this time that I took up painting, almost as a form of meditation or therapy as I find it so relaxing. I started showing my work to friends and family, then to the public on social media. The response to my work was so encouraging and enthusiastic that I decided to take the leap and transition into working as a full-time artist. There have certainly been some ups and downs over the past couple of years but I’ve had some incredible opportunities and am constantly learning and refining my art practice.
You’ve cited bold vintage textiles, the graphic nature of poster art throughout the mid 20th century, and the geometric forms of Brutalist architecture as sources of inspiration. How did this come to be for you?
I’m very nostalgic and have always been drawn to these things, amongst many others! More broadly I am inspired by graphic, textile, object and architectural design from the 1930s to 1970s. I love the attention to detail and often the simplicity of design from many movements during this time period. I’ve always enjoyed flipping through design books and now trawling the internet, absorbing images. Often viewing a simple shape of an architectural detail or a textile colour palette will result in an entire concept for an artwork or series.
Have there been any milestones along the way of your artistic career?
There have been lots of small milestones along the way but the two biggest have been exhibiting at a renowned art fair in Sydney in 2019 and my first solo show earlier this year (after multiple postponements due to Covid). The art fair was my first time showing a collection of my work in public. It was both daunting and exciting. The response from collectors and other artists alike really helped me to realise I was on the right path. Retrophilia, my first solo show, was also a huge highlight. Seeing a collection of my work hung on crisp, white gallery walls and being surrounded by friends on opening night was absolutely fantastic.
Can you tell us a little about the space you create from?
Since the pandemic started, I’ve been working from a corner of my lounge room which looks out onto my plant-filled courtyard. My studio space merges with the rest of my apartment so there is art everywhere. It’s a pretty bright and flowery space these days! I really enjoy being able to work whenever and as late as I feel like working and having everything I need on hand.
How has the year that was 2020 affected your work, or your approach to your work?
Like many artists, 2020 definitely saw me focus on my online presence. I’m more active on social media and have been incredibly grateful to have Bluethumb as a platform to connect with collectors. I’ve also released a few collections online that were initially intended to be gallery shows. I’d rather release the work and move on to creating new things instead of holding onto it to show at a later date. It’s been frustrating as I think there’s something extra special about viewing artworks in person but we’re so lucky to have such an accessible alternative.
Your most recent series has just hit Bluethumb and we couldn’t be more excited! Was there any thought process in particular behind this new body of work?
I try not to overthink the initial concept and colour palette for a collection of works. It’s often not until after the pieces are completed that I see how the influences or inspirations that I have mentally filed away over the years have re-emerged . While this collection was intentionally formed around the vintage vessels depicted, it wasn’t until after the collection was complete that I was taken back to days spent in textile markets in Guatemala, surrounded by a vivid, clashing yet somehow pleasing overload of colour. As with all of my work, I aim to evoke feelings of a happy nostalgia as well as a sense of strength and calmness through the balanced and structural nature of my painting style.
Looking forward, are there any other goals or intentions for the year ahead?
After 2020, my goal is to show more work in real life and I’m excited to be working towards some solo shows in the coming year. I’d also like to take some time to challenge myself with some much larger as well as much smaller works. My main intention is to continue to grow and develop as an artist, to continue creating work that makes me happy and brings joy to art lovers and collectors as well.