Life and art entwinned. Verity Burton perfectly captures the beauty of nature through her elegant and timeless illustrations. The simplicity of her imagery, reflects her notion of observation, finding moments to pause and reflect on the world around us. Verity tells us a little bit about her creative journey, her process, the need to create and what inspiring her at the moment.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you back to Norwich after studying at Falmouth University?
I grew up in South Norfolk but had school and both sides of grandparents in Suffolk. Looking back, I don’t have many particularly strong memories of Norfolk as a place growing up. Home felt a long way from anyone else we saw, and I dreamt of other places a lot. Before I recognised it as significant in the way I do now, I sought out comfort in the quiet of the nearby forest, the river walks, my big desk turned towards the window to overlook the garden.
I was drawn to Cornwall and the sea, and left Norfolk as soon as I could to study an Art Foundation course at Falmouth University, and then stayed on to study BA (Hons) Fine Art. It was in Cornwall I began to shape my sense of self and I think often of the windy coastal walks, clouds down to the ground and the way everything was relative to the sea.
I moved to London after graduating, working among a group of artists at specialist materials shop L. Cornelissen & Son. I stayed for three years but alongside the strain of London life I was in a bad place personally and made the decision to head back to Norfolk to repair myself and plan next steps.
It was only meant to be for a few months, but 6 years later I have a life I never expected to find here in a city that feels like home. I work full time in content and communications and keep my practice running alongside.
You refer to your botanical studies and drawings as your notes on living, can you tell us about your process and what is important to you about capturing these moments?
My creative process very much overlaps with my way of going about the world. For me, life and art have always been blurred, and it has taken me many years of feeling I ought to separate the two to appreciate the ways that they can inform each other. I have come to accept that I cannot remove the artist in me from my other daily exchanges.
I am highly sensitive, and my creative process serves as a space to observe, pause, process and reflect. It’s an opportunity to sit down at the table with all the things that matter to me.
Your work has a considered colour palette, is this important to your creative process and final product?
I’ve never consciously selected a colour palette – only in the last couple of years as I’ve been pulling work together for my collection of greetings cards and seeing the designs together have I realised how much of a colour palette they create. I tend towards certain colours, for example Payne’s Grey and Indigo, and while I do go about the world perpetually amazed by colour these particular colours feel like home.
What mediums do you enjoy working with most?
Drawing has always been a fundamental part of my process. I use a mechanical pencil, which I have had since my days in Falmouth, black fine liners and coloured pencils. I love my box of watercolours and I go through phases of using collage and printmaking too.
The tactility of materials and the sheer joy of using them has always underpinned everything I do. Over the last couple of years I have also been exploring digital drawing and the ways it can take my work in different directions.
What do you enjoy about working and creating in Norwich?
Norwich life is closest to my student life in Falmouth in many joyous ways that I didn’t expect to find. It is gentle and slow, qualities in a city my younger self would have scorned in favour of pace and expectation despite damaging my nature.
Two universities ensure a limitless supply of energy, creativity and forward thinking. There is so much green, I can walk everywhere, I can get to the coast and out into the fields. I have found such a welcoming and supportive community.
What artists, designers or other creatives are inspiring you at the moment?
At the moment I’m so inspired by painting and by the creatives moving thoughtfully and consciously; those bold enough to live and work in a way that aligns with their values.
Amoako Boafo’s paintings, graceful and vivid.
Ella Frances Sanders’ paintings and words which constantly have me looking again and noting down excerpts of her writing.
Jess Henshall’s words and jewellery (as one half of creative studio Shadowed Earth), thoughtful and delicate with a quiet glow.
I almost always listen to music while I make work and my soundtrack tends to be quiet and gentle. I love Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds, Frederico Albanese, Ludovico Einaudi – and so many more.
//all images courtesy of Verity Burton//