Work before 2010


This section illustrates my work before 2010 by grouping it according to favourite places and continuing preoccupations. This is work in progress, and details have yet to be edited. Please follow the links on the thumbnails to see more examples of each group of work and to access details of individual works.
Back gardensBack gardens. Back gardens where I live in Beckenham are typical of suburban London. They are interesting not only for the dense shapes and colours of the buildings and vegetation, but also for the behaviour of human beings, each of whom is reserved (in many senses of the word) within his or her patch of open space. By contrast cats and the birds ignore boundaries but pay particular attention to each other. My interest in these back gardens, of course, becomes modified in translation to the life of the hamlet of La Bontellerie in mid-France.

Kelsey ParkKelsey Park. Like many other suburban parks, Kelsey Park in Beckenham, can be a very ordinary place, but it can be enlivened by comic situations, most frequently in the relationships between people and their dogs. The park can also be transformed into a magical, mysterious and even threatening place, by the colours of leaves, the arrival of an exotic bird or the discovery of a secret place. Edward Burra is hiding somewhere in many of these enclosed landscapes.
Still lifeStill Life. As well as the objects in the foreground, I am interested as much in what lies beyond, usually out of a window. I do like Winifred Nicholson's approach to painting a still life, where she puts a pot of flowers on a window sill, so that you get the juxtaposition of the near and the far. I also like to play with this convention, by placing one of my paintings behind the foreground to dislocate both the illusion and the sense of the moment.
La BontellerieLa Bontellerie. Our house in this hamlet in the middle of France is a long, single-width ex-farmhouse from which we have removed the stalls for cattle and animals at one end to give ourselves more living accommodation. If there is a trace of nostalgia in these pictures, it is because the house is two hundred or more years old, and I am reminded of the old habits and customs, many of which still remain, in this religious, conservative and deeply rural area. My immediate inspiration in paintings seen through windows is, of course, Pierre Bonnard whose response to living in a southern climate I echo in my paintings of summers spent in the garden.
FranceFrench neighbours. My paintings of France show a greater interaction between people than the paintings of back gardens or public parks in England do. One piece of the topography of La Bontellerie that I love - in part because it is an echo of my childhood memories of Derbyshire - is the public pathway between the gardens, which becomes a setting for encounters between neighbours. Although they might seem to be recorded on the spot, many of these encounters are constructed, sometimes long afterwards, from drawings and from memory and imagination.
Wider horizonsWider horizons. Although I prefer to concentrate on human drama and to keep the horizon high, there are times when I let in the sky - even if I have to put a screen of trees in front! - and explore the landscape, and indeed the wider world, beyond Beckenham and La Bontellerie.
Magic placesMagic places. I hope that even the paintings which appear most topographical convey a sense of my excitement about a place, for example the exhilaration of arriving at our house at La Bontellerie and the sense of nostalgia after we have left it. There is magic in many of my locations, and this group illustrates work where the mystery seems to seep everywhere.

Copyright June Berry 2016.   Page updated 10th October 2016.