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Brighton Journal | June 20, 2019

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“It’s the passion to inspire other people that keeps me practising every day.” Artist of the Week: Beatrice von Preussen

“It’s the passion to inspire other people that keeps me practising every day.” Artist of the Week: Beatrice von Preussen
Hannah Midgley
  • On December 22, 2018
  • http://www.brightonjournal.co.uk

This week, we spoke to Beatrice von Preussen, the artist creating the perfect connections between art, science, and nature.

Art offers many opportunities for interdisciplinary moments. Artist and enthusiast of the natural world, Beatrice von Preussen, realises this potential in her artwork. She discussed how her passions for combining art, science, and nature led to an incredible once-in-a-lifetime expedition.

Beatrice said: “I think I’ve been an artist all my life.” She spent her childhood looking at woodlice and newts – something she still enjoys doing – to draw them and bring to people’s attention the marvels of nature close to home. This has manifest in diverse mediums over the years, including through prop making, designing homeware, and as an artist in residence.

Hand coloured newt etching © Beatrice von Preussen

While she enjoys working with across multiple mediums using different materials, printmaking gives Beatrice the most excitement: “It’s a diverse medium ranging from a simple fingerprint to intricate processes using acid to bite into metal plates. The fact that every two-dimensional print on paper is a record of an actual three-dimensional thing – something that has been purposefully selected or made – I find very pleasing.”

“I am the little bit of the Venn Diagram between art nature and science.”

As artist in residence at Battersea Park Children’s Zoo, Beatrice ran art workshops for children and families based on the animals living there. She explained how incredible it was to spend time with the zookeepers as she had time to ask all sorts of questions such as which animal has the smelliest excrement or how to blow out an Emu egg.

Watercolour of Battersea Park Children’s Zoo © Beatrice von Preussen

“Zookeepers are scientists, they have studied incredibly interesting topics about all aspects of the natural world. On their holidays they go and help with whale tagging and exploring rainforests to collect data, which adds to our understanding of habitats and ecosystems.”

“I have the opportunity to share the answers with other people who get real enjoyment out of them.”

Beatrice described how she was “the little bit of the Venn Diagram between art nature and science”. With an inquisitive mind, she enjoyed sharing her fascinating facts with families at the zoo:

Mixed media image of a Polar Bear in Svalbard © Beatrice von Preussen

“I have the opportunity to share the answers with other people who get real enjoyment out of them – the best bit! I’m most proud when I see adults and children looking at something I have shown them and being inspired to go out and explore more for themselves.”

“It’s the passion to inspire other people that keeps me practising every day.”

After a fantastic couple of years working at the zoo, Beatrice craved a bigger challenge where she could channel her interests in science, nature, and art into something extreme: “I thought I’d been talking about mice and maggots for long enough and I needed a bigger more exciting topic to help launch the next stage of talks and workshops. “

Mixed Media image of the Challenger © Beatrice von Preussen

While she was studying Foraminifera (microfossils) at the Natural History Museum, she came across the Challenger Expedition of 1872, a ship specially adapted for artists and scientists to explore the oceans of the world. Beatrice was inspired to create a journey of her own, sailing around Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole.

“I think I’ve been an artist all my life.”

She was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travel grant, which typically covers costs of 4-8 weeks worth of travel. Her journey consisted of a trip to the Arctic, to Svalbard, and to board a tall ship there together with a group of artists and scientists from all parts of the world.

Beatrice said: “Together we set off to circumnavigate the Svalbard Archipelago, my personal aim being to gather material for a children’s book about nature in the Arctic Circle. The scientists and artists all had a passion for the natural world, and we all wanted to investigate and explore and the variety of approaches made a richer experience for all of us.”

Arctic Circle. 360° photograph of Beatrice’s ship the Antigua moored to an iceberg at 80° North. © Beatrice von Preussen

In Beatrice’s next project, she will be working on a book and an app comprising of the material from the Svalbard expedition. She will also be developing ‘Footle and Potter’, a program of art workshops centred around science and nature.

She said: “It’s the passion to inspire other people that keeps me practising every day. I want to encourage everyone to take a moment to look closely and see the wonder of the world around us.”

You can view some of Beatrice’s previous projects on her website, Facebook, and Instagram. If you would like to be notified about future workshops, exhibitions or sales email Beatrice at beatricevonp@gmail.com to be added to the mailing list.

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