The mythical creatures of Bez & Kin are truly my kin. My golden dog Monty was probably a vision, as the creatures were created before he showed up. He truly looks like my first paintings of lions and dogs and is always in the studio.
The creatures in the kin are original art pieces and can be admired as just that, but I wanted them to have a function. So knowing my mum use to put her rings on the window sill when washing up, I decided the stands should guard valuables on a post. The stands are also in- spired by one my dad made when I was young.
I grew up around animals as the family lived on a couple of farms. We all had jobs to do like feeding the pigs and chickens. There was always a family dog too. As a teenager, I discovered horses and thought that was going to be my calling. Then I went to Foundation Art school and started drawing dogs, horses and other animals, perfecting their form.
My love for animals showed up in my work when studying for a BFA in Printmaking at West Surrey College of Art and Design, now The University for The Creative Arts. A first trip to Italy brought the discovery of Byzantine and Romanesque art, where animals are visualized in frescos and mosaics. These mythical medieval beasts totally fascinated me and I recreated them through a series of etchings.
In 330 AD Constantine founds the new capital of the Roman Empire on the existing site of the ancient Greek city Byzantium. Byzantium was renamed Constantinople and it would become the capital of the Byzantine Empire. It’s now Istanbul. Romanesque art and architecture started circa 10th century and was inspired by the Byzantine style.
Moving away from animals as a subject matter, my BFA degree show was all about architecture, still inspired by the same era. I moved to Minnesota to complete my Masters and became a graduate assistant to the printmaking department at St Cloud State University.
After years of teaching and working in the graphic design field, I have gone full circle and dis- covered my passion again for drawing animals. Recreating the mythical animals of the Byzantine and Romanesque era, I then started to create my own creatures with exaggerated characteristics, especially in their eyes and primitive bodies. The use of gold, reds and blues are typical colors used in Romanesque art, especially the use of gold in the mosaics. I realized they looked like they were waiting for something and thought the mythical beasts could protect something. So they have become guardians of treasure, whether it be neckless, earrings or keys.