WMC artist focus: Beck Wheeler
In this month’s artist focus we’re sharing projects from Beck Wheeler.
Beck is an illustrator, writer and pop surrealist artist who creates art from paint, wood, found objects and digital media.
We caught up with Beck to find out what inspires her, took a look around her colourful studio in New Zealand’s Piha, and joined her for a walk on her favourite beach.
Beck describes herself as a ‘prolific maker of stuff’. She has explored a vast array of mediums including painting and digital illustration, children’s book design, sculpture and toy design. One of her favourite life memories is her artist residency in Japan and when asked which items from her archive she’d like to share, these pieces were top of her list.
Artist residency inspired by everyday folk
The first set of images are from Beck’s 2015 artist residency in Japan.
“During my residency I created three large scale paintings of local Japanese characters that I met during my trip,” recalls Beck. “There’s the Mochi Bunny character based on a woman I met that worked in a Mochi cafe, a Bonsai character based on a local abundance of home grown bonsai and a Gardener based on an elderly lady who grew flowers and vegetables in the grass verge between the footpath and the road.”
As well as creating the paintings, Beck ran a workshop for kids where they were able to paint laser cut shapes that Beck had designed – these are seen in the middle of the exhibition photo above.
Recycled objects create coveted sculptures
When it comes to looking for inspiration, Beck says that she can be inspired by anything at any time. This shines through in her unique sculptural work, created from recycled domestic objects.
A dustpan brush becomes a nose, a cork screw becomes a rhino’s horn, an egg beater becomes an antler.
“I don’t have a problem with finding inspiration,” she says. “The only thing I need is more time in the day to act on the inspiration.”
Vintage magazines fashioned into colourful patterns
The final image from Beck is one of her many vivid patterns.
The bugs pattern is crafted from collaged elements cut out of vintage magazines.
“I found the magazines in our garden shed when we moved house,” says Beck. “They were filled with interesting textures and colours. I used the pages of the magazines as a starting point for developing the pattern.”
Beck used Japanese rice glue to create her collage, shown in the work in progress image below.
When asked about her favourite types of project, Beck says that she’s more attached to a process rather than a project.
“My favourite projects are the ones where I get to be part of the development process. I like being part of the idea generation stage and taking those ideas through the development process and on to final art.”
You can see more of Beck’s work on her Watermark Creative portfolio page.