Her seventh solo exhibition was inspired by the people and landscapes of Trinidad and Tobago, which she recreated in acrylics. Beverley says she is unable to imagine living life anywhere else, as the Caribbean is home to her and serves as her muse.
“Art was in my blood, as my extended family were creatives and my parents always supported my decision to pursue art. As a girl, I always found myself colouring on whatever I could find including the wrapping papers of sweets,” Fitzwilliam Harries said.
Winning prizes for her art were a constant part of her elementary and secondary school years and her alma mater Holy Name Convent acted as the main catalyst for the artist you see today.
Beverley received a distinction in Fine Arts at the GCE Ordinary Level Cambridge examinations and with the help of her parents, she went on to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in painting at Fanshawe College of Applied Arts & Technology, Ontario, Canada.
“I would have loved to study at The University of the West Indies, but unfortunately the Visual Arts department only opened up in 1979 when I returned from Canada,” she shares.
She painted in watercolour upon returning to T&T, being strongly influenced by Jackie Hinkson and John Newel Lewis. While some may not consider art to be the most economically viable career, Fitzwilliam Harries believes that it is possible to an extent.
The artist said even back in those days working by commission, you needed a full time job – especially as a single person to live a practical life. Shortly after returning from her studies in Canada, she landed a job as Bishop Anstey High School’s art teacher where she taught for 19 years, also serving as a CXC Examiner between 1993-7.
“It is indeed difficult to find the time and motivation to pursue your craft after a long day of teaching 275 girls in one week from forms one to upper six … at that time I painted like I taught, since teaching and working experiences can affect your art.”
In 1997 Beverley made the decision to move to Jamaica with her growing family until they again changed locales in 2000 and resided in St. Lucia until 2007 before returning home to Trinidad. During those years, she practiced her art along with self-study.
“I was fascinated by the works of Turner, Derain and Van Gogh. I also loved the Fauves! Hence my use of red. I wanted to paint with more body, so I made the shift to acrylics since I studied this at college.”
The artist attended a few workshops in Barbados facilitated by Margaret Roseman (of Canada) and Heidi Berger (of Germany) launching her first solo exhibition in 2006 with the encouragement of Rachael Du Boulay – owner of ‘The Inner Gallery’.
“Prior to this, I always participated in group exhibits with other artists. You need workshops – no matter how old or experienced you are. You need to step out of your box and refresh yourself to learn new techniques.”
Fitzwilliam Harries encourages all creatives across various genres to pursue their art for the right reasons and stay committed to learning.
“This is the secret to continued success.” Beverley says as we exchange knowing smiles and she explains the names of the photos hung at her exhibit held at 101 Art Gallery circa October 2017.