Artist profile: Marina Beard

What’s your background and how did you become an artist?

Having spent my childhood in Italy I was surrounded by a variety of beautiful things which attracted my attention. Looking back, I was like a magpie; collecting images of all sorts of sights and sounds. When I eventually came to live in this part of London, I continued to be fascinated by my new surroundings.

I received my degree in Fine Art Sculpture & Ceramics from Camberwell. Upon graduating, I began working on large scale sculptures and public commissions.

I eventually fell into teaching, after a year-long commission at a local school ignited my love of inspiring others to be creative regardless of perceived natural talent. I qualified as a teacher, and spent a decade working in both private and state schools; first as an Artist in Residence and, eventually, as a Joint Head of Department at a successful grammar school in South East London.

I also managed to squeeze in some work at the Clore Ballrooms on the Southbank for a festival, which is where my passion for combining live art performance with music began in earnest!

Why did you leave teaching?

In 2017 I realised I was approaching total burnout. I found that I had inadvertently traded teaching skills, subject curiosity and enjoyment in the creative process for pressure to achieve the highest grades. I was drowning in oceans of paperwork and government directives. This realisation led me to a career change. With shaky legs, and much to the dismay of others, I left my job and decided to return to the life of a full time artist.

What do you do at the Mansion?

I have been at the Mansion for a year now, and am involved in a variety of projects. I’m working on private commissions and am also back to indulging my passion as a sound artist. I still teach small groups and individual students.

More recently, I have become part of a group of artists here involved in creating large scale installations for events and community workshops. I love this work as it enables me not only to develop my own knowledge, but to continue using my skills whilst sharing that with the local community; hopefully to further engender a love of contemporary/traditional art.

What does your typical day look like?

As I live locally, it is a short journey to arrive every day to my little corner of heaven! I got over ambitious and decided to cycle recently – suffice it to say that hill + art materials + me was not a winning combination!

Most days I can be found sitting at my studio desk here at the Mansion, music on, tea in hand and a range of media flying around everywhere! I’m a bit of a workaholic - I find it difficult not to come in at weekends too, but I am trying to contain my time here in paradise, as family demands a fair share of my time also.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I am inspired by primarily by sound, light and the emotions I experience in relation to colour, nature and the environment I am in. I feel really strongly about protecting and caring for the environment, I support local & national charities and donate some of the proceeds of my sales to environmental charity. I also try to work with and include recycled material where I can, and some of the inks I use are made from materials sourced right here in the park!

I feel immensely privileged to be able to explore these ideas in my work in such a spectacular environment as our lovely park. I love being surrounded by trees and space, whilst being firmly grounded in South East London.

What does the future hold?

My future plans are to continue to make art here: at the moment I am preparing a body of work for a touring show in the US as well venues more locally. I am developing some small sculptures which may be ready for show at the Mansion before Christmas.. so watch this space..

I also hope to run a series of workshops from here, as I am really keen to see this space become even more of a creative hub in the local area. For myself I am also hoping to find the time and the finances to study for my MA..