Swansea teen lockdown artist offered thousands for work

By Ben Price
BBC News

Image caption, Makenzy Beard, 14, has been offered thousands of pounds for her paintings

A teenager from Swansea who took up painting during lockdown has been offered thousands of pounds for some of her work.

Makenzy Beard, 14, has had international interest in her portrait paintings which have gone on display at a gallery in Cardiff.

Her portrait of her neighbour, farmer John Tucker, went viral after it was posted on social media.

Makenzy said she still wants to continue painting as a hobby for now.

Art enthusiasts in the Middle East, the United States and the UK have expressed interest in her work.

Blackwater Gallery in Cardiff Bay said three of Makenzy's pieces have already sold - one buyer offered £10,000.

Image caption, Farmer John Tucker said the portrait of him is "like a photograph"

The gallery believes her work could continue to fetch tens of thousands of pounds in the years ahead if Makenzy continues on her current trajectory in the art world.

Director of Blackwater Gallery, Kimberley Lewis, said: "I think anyone can be a good portrait artist, but I think it takes a lot to show real personality and the soul of a person through their pieces and I think for someone so young, Makenzy does this brilliantly."

Makenzy's most recent portrait is of her grandfather, Bernard Davies. It is currently one of six pieces on display at the gallery with a few more pieces expected to be added to the collection shortly.

Image source, Makenzy Beard
Image caption, Makenzy is keeping the portrait of her grandfather

The teenager said she is keeping the grandfather's portrait due to its sentimental value.

"This is a whole new step for me. Going from having your work in your own shed or posting it on social media, but then to have experts in the art world recognising your work and to actually want it in their space to show it off is really nice.

"It's not something I've done before. I've not been to many galleries before so I've gone from not going to many galleries to having my own work displayed in a gallery, which is quite a big jump."

Image caption, Makenzy Beard, 14, took up painting during the Covid lockdown

When it comes to her future, the Bishopston Comprehensive student said she is still keeping all her options open.

"I think it's convinced me even more that now I'm doing a bit of everything that I want it to stay that way. I don't think I want to be an artist as a job but I want to have this on the side.

"I think it's quite nice to have a balance between art and academic stuff. I also want to travel and play sport," she added.

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