Dawn Beckles | Putting the Life in Still Life

Posted in In the Studio by Aimee Morris on 29th November 2018

London-based artist Dawn Beckles reinvigorates the classic still life style by incorporating in her works vibrant colour, contemporary settings and exotic flora inspired by her native Barbados. Her maximalist interiors and characterful ceramics explore the relationship between people and the environments they construct around themselves. We catch up with Dawn to find out more about her process and the philosophy underlying her art.

Dawn working away at Wimbledon Art Studios in London


What is it about the still life that appeals to you and how have you reinterpreted this classic style of painting?

For me, still life paintings are a reflection of childhood memories and travelling. The idea of a solid object that is selected to accentuate an interior or exterior based on its colour and aesthetic, is fascinating. Ceramics can often be an afterthought with little meaning or relevance - it’s my intention to bring them to the forefront. They can add colour, vibrance and life to an environment.

Can you tell us a bit about your process?

With all of my paintings I like to start with a neon base, from there I will build the room or setting using collated imagery. I use a room layout that I find appealing and I set about dressing it, layer by layer. Adding collage paintings, paintings, plants and furniture. For me it’s important for them to be inviting, warm and happy and to give the viewer an insight to something imagined.

Chinoiserie by Dawn Beckles


Are the interiors you create based on real spaces or are they imagined?

All of the interiors that I create are imagined. I find maximalist interiors and clashing colours intriguing and every 6 months I put together a collection of these, with pieces of furniture, artwork, plants, flowers and patterns that I have come across. I then print these and create a mood board that works in conjunction with my colour wall and this is used as inspiration in my upcoming body of work.

It's Me, Maybe You by Dawn Beckles


How do your roots in Barbados influence your work?

The light is most definitely different in Barbados and therefore my approach to colour reflects that. I find the local plants and animals extremely inspiring and am actively including some of these in my newest pieces. For example “Flying Blossoms” depicts flying fish which is on the Barbados Coat of Arms.


What are your ambitions for the future?

If the last year has taught me anything, it’s that when you do what you are most afraid of it challenges the way you think and perceive your practice and for me it has opened the door to possibilities.

Often we can become stuck in boxes created either by others or ourselves and it’s important to realise that you and only you are in control. I am going to continue to work hard to produce and show my work, and see where that takes me.