Artsbeat feature

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This is part of a feature in February’s free Artsbeat magazine. To find out more about Barley, his thoughts on his University of Derby residency and see pictures of some of his work, make sure you pick up a copy of the magazine which is available at galleries, cafes, and arts venues across the county. For a list of places with copies click on About Artsbeat above.

When Bartholomew ‘Barley’ Beal says he has “fallen on his feet” that is probably a bit of an understatement.

For a recently-graduated fine arts student, I would say the 23-year-old is experiencing remarkable critical acclaim of which most other artists could only dream.

It’s not difficult to see why. His work is jaw-droppingly good and he has a work ethic that sees him in the studio at all hours.

His paintings have a mature quality, which have caught the eye of many a savvy collector in recent months.

He sold all but one of his paintings at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea last October to the envy of his peers.

But to top all of this he has also secured a prestigious artists’ residency in Derbyshire for a year.

With the glee of an excited child who has just discovered it is snowing and there is no school he tells me that he’s: “Happy happy happy and having great fun.”

Barley, whose style is best described by a lay-person as big and bold portraiture, is working out of a fantastic double-windowed studio at Banks Mill in Derby after winning the biennial Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award.

The residency is being funded by the University of Derby and Derbyshire Community Foundation. It was established in 1998 with the help of a legacy from the estate of the late Jonathan Vickers.

In honour of Jonathan’s lifetime devotion to the arts, the award brings a rising painter to Derbyshire to produce a new body of work inspired by the county’s landscape, heritage and people.

Once completed, Barley’s paintings will be exhibited at The Devonshire Dome on the University’s Buxton Campus, and at Derby Museum and Art Gallery, between July and October.

During his year the artist will also teach at the university in the school of art and design, and help run educational art workshops for schools and communities, supported by funding from Rolls-Royce. His brief is to provide the community with an exhibition  entitled A Sense of Place using the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site as inspiration.