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Q & A with Britt Ferns – Swell Alumni

Welcome to a new Swell series where we take a look back at some of the amazing makers, shakers, and creative humans we’ve featured in the mag over the years. Swell fans re(meet) Britt Ferns.

When we first met Britt almost two years ago, she’d just moved to Newcastle after living in the US with her family. So much has happened since then and we were so excited to sit down and catch up on all things art, inspiration and the Newcastle community.

It’s been two years since we last spoke, what have you been up to!?

Lots of things have been happening! This year I moved out of my spare room at home into a nice big studio space on King St. Right near you guys actually. 

It’s been really nice to have my own space to work, I don’t get distracted with doing chores around the house anymore. 

I was selected to be this year’s Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Art Series artist which was a huge honour. I was commissioned to do a piece that reflected the winning researcher of the year Professor Nick Talley and his research on gut health.  It was a huge challenge but well worth it, as it pushed me to create in a new way. I met up with Professor Talley and spoke to him about his research, highlights of his career, his achievements and what motivates him. There was a lot of information to digest (ha!).  But in the end I came up with a piece that stemmed from the idea of the communication between the gut and the brain. 

This artwork will be shown in November, details to be announced, and will also be up for auction – all proceeds go back to HMRI. It was great to be part of this project and do something for the Newcastle community. 

Conversations-Britt-Frens_HMRI
"Conversations" by Britt Fern for HMRI 2021 Art Series.
Conversations-Britt-Frens_HMRI
"Conversations" by Britt Fern for HMRI 2021 Art Series.

What’s inspiring you creatively at the moment?

Since working on the HMRI piece and also working on my solo exhibition at the same time, the two sort of merged as I was painting with colours symbolic of a healthy and unhealthy gut, fleshy pinks, yellows and browns. I’ve continued on with this palette for my show. I think also creating during the cooler months and being in lockdown all had a bit of an impact and it took me down a bit of a darker or moodier path in some way. 

I’ve been inspired by colours and textures lately and have been experimenting with different materials and ways to apply them – which is fun!

What’s something you’re really proud of that you’ve achieved in the last year?

My artwork for Hunter Medical Research Institute.

You’ve been in Newcastle a while now, what’s it been like connecting with the art community after returning from overseas?

The community here is wonderful. Most artists here work alone so we have art drinks once a year. It will be exciting that galleries are opening up and we can all appreciate each other’s work in the flesh. It’s been fun connecting with other female artists in the industry. 

Also one day I’d love to have a spontaneous mixed media art workshop, just for fun. Nothing technical, just making and conversation.

And finally, what’s something that you would love to pass on to any aspiring creatives, painters and art makers?

Make sure you get out of your comfort zone every now and again because that’s where the growth happens. 

You can find more about Britt’s work here

Words: Laura Kebby | Photography: Zoe Lonergan

As seen in Swell Issue 5. Grab your copy here

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