From a place of humor - Tender Flesh

Life is about the journey, not the destination!
How many times have you heard it? For me, it's one of the phrases that keep on repeating endlessly, and no one is giving you the manual to live that way. To be present. To be here. With your full mind and body. I must admit I have tried to practice that life approach couple of times, but it always ends up with failure.
Being so fascinated by the present moment, and in constant search of the right recipe for my unsolved case, I came across one fascinating artist. Her story made me think in a different direction.
Bea was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis two years ago. In her search of solutions for life problems that hit us hard - she found art. She started developing her world of Tender Flesh, a pottery brand of exquisite pieces. And everything that Tender Flesh is now is part of who Bea was, and who she will become.
I guess we can agree with a strong point: Life is about the journey, and experiences and love, and sorrow. And everything that we listen, feel, or see. It is unique to us - it is tender like the flesh.

Where are you from? Where does the art journey start for you?

I’m from a small town in rural Wales, but I now live in Bath, England. I’ve always been interested in art, specifically 3D, and I’ve had a fascination with objects which appear alive as long as I can remember. From a young age I would sculpt prosthetics and SFX costumes, and spent a long time practicing realistic sculpture and body horror. A lot of my current work is inspired by horror sculpture, intersected with drag culture and fashion.

What is the first emotion that drives you towards creating an art piece? Do you recognize the connection immediately and let yourself flow on the creative process? Or do you "bake" the inspiration for some time?

Many of my pieces come from a morbid curiosity with the human body and its limitations, though a lot of my work comes from a place of humor - in fact a lot of my ideas start as jokes with my partner.
I have lists of ideas for pieces that I’d like to make, and add to them whenever inspiration strikes. Usually as soon as I’ve had an idea I’ll know if it’ll work well and whether it’ll be effective – though sometimes the pieces I didn’t expect to work were the ones that came out the best! Sometimes though I just start sculpting and whatever comes out comes out, but usually I’ve planned out what I’ll be making ahead of time.

What is the back story of your design? Because every one of us sees the world through separate lenses. How hard it must be to transfer it to other people?

I began making art as a way to deal with my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) two years ago. I felt betrayed by my body and I use my art as a way to explore the relationship I have with my fragile, tender flesh, and also as a way to create something I value when my MS means I can’t do my PhD.

When it comes to making a living from your art, what are the main struggles? And what would be your advice for starting artists?

My main struggle is in dealing with the unexpected and constant nature of my MS. Some days I can work for hours and feel fine, but others I can’t get out of bed or feel my hands, and I often don’t know how a day will be until I wake up that morning. I am still grieving for my life before MS, but I’m finding joy in what I can do, and appreciating the new worlds my disability has opened up for me and the connections I’ve made along the way.

My advice to starting artists would be to not aim for perfection but progress, and to be gentle with themselves. Also, social media may be a nightmare, but it has opened up so many doors for me, and I encourage artists to use it as they feel comfortable but also not to dwell too much on numerical measures of success, which can be demotivating and can ruin the joy of creating.

What do you prefer, single pieces or storytelling through a whole project? And what approach do you use in each case?

Usually each item I make is stand-alone, though last year I collaborated with an amazing artist (Izzie Beirne) on a small run of pots which she painted in her unique style. I really enjoyed working on this collection of four complimentary pieces, and would like to do more collections based off a unifying theme in future.

Why do you use certain materials? What connects you with them, and makes you feel they are perfect for your art piece?

I use polymer clay for all of my pieces, because it’s a material I can sculpt, paint and bake at home. I began creating during the beginning of the pandemic, and since I was shielding I couldn’t go to a ceramics studio to use a kiln, so I opted for this more accessible material. It has its limitations, and I would love to make ceramics now that I feel a little safer going outside, though I’m aware it’s a very different material so it could take some getting used to!

What does ART, in general, mean to you?

For me, art is freedom, self-expression and beauty. It exists everywhere and enriches all our lives, whether we’re aware of it or not. I enjoy art which is honest, scary and thought-provoking, and my aim with my work is to create animate inanimate objects that I’d like to have in my own home but which frighten me a little.

The FOURLINEdesign team would like to thank Bea for sharing inspiring thoughts with our community.