Our new Reception Selection features work by the award-winning young artist, Bernadett Timko, whose practice spans everything from painting and sculpture to etching. Here, Bernadett tells us about her childhood in Hungary and the steps that led her to become an admired London artist with an instantly recognisable style.
Self Portrait in Babu's Jumper by Bernadett Timko: Oil, 91 x 71 cm - £2,330
You were born in and grew up in Hungary. What was that like, and why did you decide to move to London?
Growing up in Hungary was quite nice, especially in my early childhood as I spent a lot of time surrounded by nature. I always lived close to forests and mountains; I was a very introverted kid so that kind of environment suited me. In my early teens I had a difficult family life because of my alcoholic father. My mum divorced him when I was 14, and then my mum, big sister and I moved to a city where I studied drawing and painting for four years. It was after this that I decided to move to London, not just to study but to start my own independent life and leave a lot of things behind me. I felt like an outsider in Hungary and I needed to be somewhere with freedom to live and grow spiritually. I knew I’d return to my studies, but to begin with I hardly spoke any English and worked full-time to support myself.
Chair with Pillow Case by Bernadett Timko: Oil, 56 x 46 cm - £1,330
You have diplomas in both Figurative Sculpture and Figurative Painting. How have these disciplines influenced your learning and development as an artist?
To be honest I learnt more about drawing and painting in Hungary than in London, but I still had a great experience at Heatherley’s. I had my own studio space, could use all of the facilities, and got to know some great tutors whose art I love. I learnt about printmaking, which became a big passion of mine, and then sculpture, which helped a lot with my painting. I became more expressive and learnt to appreciate the processes even more than before. During my studies I spent all my time in the studio; the constant practice gave rise to new ideas and perspectives.
Bee by Bernadett Timko: Oil,122 x 97 cm - £4,300
For those unfamiliar with your work, what are your main influences and how do you approach your subject matter and colour palette?
My main influence is the magic of ordinary, everyday life. Faces and places, light and mood inspire me to capture feelings from a particular moment in a painting, still life or etching. I look for inspiration everywhere.
My colour palette tends to be dark, but I go through phases. Sometimes I don't have white on my palette at all, sometimes it comes back for a few paintings - like this reception selection. I appreciate the richness of dark tones more than vivid bright colours, and I like a sense of the melancholic in painting.
You produce work across a range of media. Is there one which offers the most creative fulfilment?
Each medium offers me something different. I feel most creative when I paint, most free and strong when I sculpt, and most peaceful and focused when making etchings.
Self Portrait at Cammie's Place by Bernadett Timko: Oil, 99 x 40 cm - £2,030
How did you find creating the new works for the Reception Selection given the precise measurements of the space available?
I always have different sizes of stretcher bars in the studio, and different sizes of canvasses inspire different ideas; they almost tell me what to paint on them.
You exhibit widely and have won many awards, most recently The Phyllis Roberts Award and the Winsor & Newton Young Artist Award (Second Prize) at the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2018. How do such accolades impact your practice?
They definitely make me work harder to achieve even more and win even bigger prizes. It’s humbling to know that other artists and art lovers appreciate and support what I do and think that my work is worthy of that recognition.