Spotlight

Interview Artist Fleur Yearsley

Championed by Roger Bevan
Visual Arts
The Wick - Fleur Yearsley, BLOW
Above  Fleur Yearsley, BLOW
ONES TO
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ONES TO
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The Wick - Fleur Yearsley at Sapling Gallery
Above  Fleur Yearsley at Sapling Gallery
Interview
Fleur Yearsley
03 August 2022
Interview
Fleur Yearsley
03 August 2022
For more than three decades, art historian Roger Bevan has been touring new exhibitions in London’s leading museums and galleries on a weekly basis as the director of Exhibition Circle. It was during an exclusive preview of Fleur Yearsley’s 2021 solo exhibition at Sapling Gallery, When The Lights Go Up, that he was first introduced to this week’s spotlight.
Artist Fleur Yearsley says: “Roger came in just before the show opened for a sneak peek of the exhibition. As I spoke about my work, Roger gave genuine time to each painting and responded with charisma, humour and insightful engagement.”

Bevan says: “The exhibition ran for just two weeks but provided an irrepressible sense of joy and optimism and humour, all at that moment in short supply… urgent remedies to the long uncertainty of Covid. It was the exhibition that announced the arrival of summer in London, and the promise that normal life would be resumed.”

Inspired by her personal experience, and capturing fragments of lives moving through private and shared spaces, it’s not surprising that Yearsley’s paintings were considered a welcome tonic to Covid. She says: “I imagine snapshots of scenes after an action has taken place, transforming these views into monumental paintings. Play is the life force running through my paintings, with dichotomies that bring a humorous approach to the sweet and sour.”

Bevan adds: “‘When The Lights Go Up’ is a sea of party detritus… balloons and plastic beakers and crushed cans and an amyl nitrate capsule… evidence of a riotous entertainment that the government had sought to cancel… a proper ‘partygate’ in defiance of the prevailing restrictions.

“The rebellious party mood continues with ‘Let Me In’, a locked cubicle door behind which are five (by my count) pairs of feet squeezed together in a challenge to social distancing orders. The title’s sixth voice begs for inclusion… break down the doors… ignore the stay-at-home orders.”

Yearsley draws on an eclectic combination of influences and shared pop culture imagery, from cartoons she used to watch as a child such as The Ren & Stimpy Show, to music, films, fashion and “trash TV shows”.

She says: “I try to go and see as many shows as possible and when I moved to London, I realised there were so few paintings I had seen in full colour life HD. Now social media has become a global village by which we can look and connect with so many artists from so many different stages.

“At a time of social and political polarisation, I attempt to find commonalities with others by discovering shared memories through painting. What at first appear to be ordinary objects painted with directness and simplicity, serve as metaphors and devices to explore intimate relationships, emotional connections, and humanity through the materiality of paint.”

Her most recent work – limited-edition prints created with Klein Imaging – explores cultural fashion brands, 90s aesthetics, identity, and the communities we belong to. She also has a few shows lined up – watch this space!

About the champion

The Wick - Roger Bevan

In addition to launching the Exhibition Circle in 1982, Roger Bevan has been a senior contemporary art market correspondent for The Art Newspaper, a contributing editor for Art+Auction magazine, and published extensively in the likes of Print Quarterly and the RA Magazine. His impressive list of bylines is matched by a number of industry awards including being voted the Top Recommended Art Educator by Spear’s magazine.

“The exhibition ran for just two weeks but provided an irrepressible sense of joy and optimism and humour.”

Roger Bevan

Place of Birth

I’m a northern soul. I was born in Manchester, a UK 90s baby.

Education

I studied my BA (Hons) in Fine Art at Manchester School of Art and moved to London to study my MFA at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Awards, Accolades

I received the Gwen John Scholarship to study at Slade, which was a huge support. After graduating I was awarded the Almacantar Studio Award, which was a big help in the transition, with a bursary and Bow Arts studio space for a year. The Jealous Prize provided me the opportunity to make limited-edition screen prints in their studios alongside its fabulous team. A print was then exhibited at the Royal Academy in the Original London Print Fair and included in the V&A museum collection.

Spiritual guides, Mentors

There are three people who come to mind, but all for different reasons and facets. My good friend Julia Lucero, who has just become associate director at Nahmad Projects, is someone I can rely on for advice and support 24/7. We met a few years ago through my friend Alvaro Barrington at our degree show. Alvaro has been a big influence on how I look at art and make. He is resolute, passionate and always reminds me to be honest with the work. We are total nerds about painting, together with artist Dorus Tossijn, who is one of the most direct and perceptive people I know.

Advice

Be relentless. Follow your gut (it has 100 million nerve endings for a reason) about the opportunities to grasp and make your own.
“Let the paintings breathe and have a life” is advice I carry with me, given by Sharon Hall, one of my tutors at Manchester School of Art.
Remain open and never stop questioning your practice.


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