By Katerina Panaretaki
Artist & Ceramist / Co-founder of Sol Creative Retreats
Venetia is a London based artist & ceramicist who I met last year on a creative retreat in Mallorca.
As the co-founder of Sol Creative Retreats, Venetia guided us through a few of the most beautiful painting/drawing workshops, which was when I got a glimpse of her process of making work and fell in love with it.
With her creative instinct and natural talent she creates pieces brimming with colour and soul, that offer the viewer a sense of stillness and tranquility. You can find her work on
www.partnershipeditions.com where she will also be launching her newest collection called ‘Moon Gazers’ or you can find her on @venetiaberry and become obsessed with her satisfying videos of paint mixing and much more.
1. Tell us about your background as an artist/creative. What made you follow the artistic path?
I was 19 and I had a place at Bristol University to read Politics when I took the summer course at Charles H Cecil Studios in Florence. I had always loved art and creating, up until A Level, but had been encouraged to get an academic degree with the idea of coming back to art if I was being drawn that way. However, when I went to Florence my passion to create was ignited in a huge way. I met a few people in Florence who were students at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh. They encouraged me to apply and I got a very last minute place on the Painting Course. I remember my teacher (who interviewed me) saying, “The good news is that you’re in. The bad news is that it starts on Monday”. I haven’t looked back since and I am forever grateful to the anonymous person (my guardian angel) who had dropped out of the course at the last minute, meaning there was one space left for me.
2. What are your inspiration/ influences? Women that inspired your work?
I get so much inspiration from seeing other artists’ work. For me, exhibitions are the fuel to my ow creativity. I am particularly inspired by art from the 20th Century, from Fauvism to Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism. It is wonderful to see female artists from history begin to receive the recognition they deserved in their own lifetimes, a cause being championed by the likes of Katy Hessel. Some of my favourite female artists include Helen Frankenthaler, Jenny Saville, Yayoi Kusama, Tracey Emin, Hilma AF Klimt, Joan Mitchell and Lee Krasner (by no means an exhaustive list). I am also hugely inspired by Joan Miro, Henri Matisse, Milton Avery and Picasso.
3. How do you come up with ideas for your work?
Good question! I am not entirely sure of the answer as I don’t spend time brainstorming or anything. I think the way my creativity works is that an idea will form in my head, slowly growing until I have an urge to get it out onto paper or canvas. This isn’t a fast process, as the idea needs to mature. For example, I spent three months in Rome in 2022, filling my days with seeing the wonderfully beautiful artwork that Rome has to offer. Think of the frescoes in Churches, brimming with an abundance of flesh and curves. I felt so inspired being there but it wasn’t until I returned that the initial inspiration had formed itself into an idea for a painting. Now that I have been back a couple of months, my work has gone from creating very abstract work in Rome back to painting bodies and also back to using oil paint, a medium I had swapped out for acrylics a couple of years ago. It has been so exciting for me to really feel the inspiration of Rome truly manifest itself in my work, and has also given me a bit more of an idea of how I personally create and process inspiration.
4. How do you normally plan your work? What material do you use?
I like to sketch my ideas out loosely before starting a painting, however, I try not to make the drawings too ‘perfect’ as I know I will only then be trying to emulate these lines on the canvas. This is always tricky and I can find myself being frustrated as I prefer the original sketch. So, I aim to go to the canvas with a vague, vague idea of what to put on it. I think there is something so strong about an original line in a drawing - a shape that has come straight from my head to the canvas, as opposed to attempting to stick to the template or plan I have created prior. When it comes to colour, for me that is pure instinct. I love this aspect of creativity as I really don’t know what the finished work will look like. Once the paint goes on, the only thing I need to think about is which colour my gut is guiding me towards for the next brush stroke. I mainly work in paint, oil, acrylic and also some inks. However, I also work in ceramics and printmaking.
5. What are your favourite pieces of work that you’ve created? Why?
When I was 17 I went to a talk by Grayson Perry and I asked him what his favourite work of his own was. He answered, “the next one”. This has always stuck with me and I totally agree with the sentiment. I am always thinking ahead to my next work, how to achieve whatever it is I am striving for. The ‘next’ work always feels so shiny and new, only existing inside my head, waiting to be brought out into the world. As I said before, I will often have a vague idea of the painting, but this doesn’t necessarily always mean how it will look, it can also be an idea of the feeling I want the painting to evoke - often much easier said than done!
6. What are your goals? / What do you want to pursue as an artist?
My goals are to keep creating, as much as I can. To stick to my guns when it comes to what to create - to follow my own creative intuition. To keep exploring and learning how to understand how my own creativity works. To push myself and to work as hard as I can. I would love to continue to exhibit my work when I can. I am also the Co - Founder of Sol Creative Retreats - a safe space for womxn to come together and explore themselves through art and yoga, and to nourish themselves through food. I can’t wait to continue working on forming this community of wonderful womxn.
7. What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a series of paintings which I am really excited about. Picture languid nude female bodies, situated in a colourful and almost surreal landscape. I have been really inspired by Cezanne’s Bathers that I saw recently at the Tate Modern show, as well as plethora of female forms I saw depicted through the art of Rome. If you want to check them out I am @venetiaberry
8. What’s your experience with Discarded Ideas or creative blocks?
Creative blocks are so tough and frustrating! But they are just part of the package and of the journey of creativity. When I first arrived in Rome I was so overwhelmed by the intensity of inspiration I felt. But, I really struggled to create. I found myself questioning myself and my work constantly as I observed the abundance of spine tinglingly beautiful art in Rome. My sister came to visit me and I showed her what I had been creating - the work seemed quite stressed and panicked - obviously conveying my sense of self doubt at the time. Together we did a huge cull of the work. Throwing the majority in a huge bin in Rome was a huge relief and I probably ended up learning more from it than if I am creating work that I am pleased with. So I guess the moral of the story is, stick with the creative blocks! Everything is a lesson.
9. What would be your advice for future generations of artists and women artists?
Stick to your gut. Find what it is you truly want to create and run with it. Don’t make something purely because someone else tells you to. Authenticity is key.
10. As an artist, what struggles have you had to face? How have you overcome them?
For me, learning to talk about my work has been out of my comfort zone. It is always the creation and the ideas that come first for me. After I have created the work I have had to really look at it and ask myself why I have made it. I definitely have not found all of the answers. If I had them I would be a writer, not a painter! I wouldn’t say I have totally overcome this, but the things that have helped me along the way have been talking to other artists about my work and theirs, writing about my work in a journal, also answering questions like in this interview - being put on the spot can often lead to me saying something that I didn’t necessarily know before! Also something that really helps me is seeing the reasoning behind other artists work - it doesn’t always have to be a hugely complicated aspect of the work. I think it is important to just keep working at it and keep questioning yourself. My paintings have taught me everything I know about my own work - the clues are in there somewhere. Learning how to extract them is the hard part.
11. If you had to work with a different medium for a year, which one would you pick and why?
I have always wanted to try my hand at sculpting. I think I would struggle to create something so 3 Dimensional, but it has the possibility to bring my work to life in a different way. I love marble sculptures and I am always blown away at the talent it takes to create one. There is no margin for error when it comes to marble. One day I would love to try it!
SOL CREATIVE RETREATS
“Our creative retreats are designed to help women reconnect and nurture their creativity, find community and return to themselves.”