Wendy Bevan is a British Musician and Photographer who combines a surreal and theatrical approach to her work across genres in the photographic image, musical performance on stage, galleries and experimental art-works. She has developed a unique cinematic world and style of her own making. Wendy’s free spirit and personality as an artist in the most authentic sense enables her to freewheel between genres making panoptic, multifaceted art works. She believes in creating a universal language and balance in the crossover of disciplines. Her vivid and dramatic imagination reveals her immense creative, surreal energy as a story teller, conjuring an alternative, ethereal universe.
For over a decade Bevan’s surreal, theatrical photographic works have been presented and published by leading international fashion publications including LOVE, i-D, POP magazine,10, Harpers Bazaar, Vogue Italia and Marie-Claire Italia. Her distinctive signature Polaroid work explores the identity and complexities of womanhood against a backdrop of the modern archetypical feminine identity unapologetically breaking away from the mainstream, her work welcomes in the femme fatale and celebrates the theatricality of the gothic. Bevan often uses fashion as costume and the photograph as an extension of the stage. The platform this offered allowed Wendy created a vast body of notably iconic photographic work. She has taken portraits of female icons such as Debbie Harry and Tilda Swinton.
Bevan has exhibited and performed throughout the UK, Europe and internationally across various prestigious platforms, galleries and venues including the ICA, David Roberts Art Foundation, Toynbee Studios, Arts Admin, The Hackney Empire and music festivals such as Latitude, Wilderness and Secret Garden Party. Also live art performance festivals such as SPILL Festival of Performance, The Edinburgh Festival and making appearances in innovative immersive site specific venues as a performer with UK theatre company Punchdrunk.
Although initially training as a Photographer at Art school, Bevan led a parallel life studying Performance and Acting at Drama college and pursued private coaching in voice, singing and violin. Born into a theatrical family, both of Bevan’s parents were actors, Wendy was educated in the North of England where she gained a full arts scholarship in Music, Performing and Visual Art. She began studying violin and singing at the age of seven and went on to explore classical and contemporary vocal techniques, including Jazz and Musical Theatre.
Between 2009 -2014 Wendy collaborated with award winning song writer & performer Seiriol Davies and formed her band Temper Temper. Wendy was the brainchild behind their show The Pain of Desire which premiered in 2012. Originally starting as a photographic body of work, the full musical show became a stunning, camp concoction of melodrama and gothic darkness that captured a strange symmetry in temporality, dream-states and decay to Bevan’s visual work. The show was notably reviewed as completely mesmerising. Exploring her 4 octave vocal range on stage, Wendy’s voice became a literal echo of her vision. Her fiercely unpredictable temperament in the wild delivery of her songs in performance. The music accompanied her experimental characterisation and theatrical lyrics, co-written by herself and Davies. The edges between live concert and theatrical performance bleed together in this full band show. Bevan’s stunning performance is pure Dietrich, a voice made of jagged highs and a spine-caressing baritone. Her expressions detached and constantly yearning for something in the middle distance as if the audience aren’t there at all. The effect is powerful and hypnotic and will stay with you. Weimar rock ‘n’ roll from an unforgettable performer.
As a singer, Wendy has collaborated and worked with music producers including Paul Simm (Neneh Cherry/Amy Winehouse) Howie B (Bjork/Tricky) and Marc Collin (Nouvelle Vague), Matthew Halsall and The Gondwana Orchestra. And as a Violinist, the Balanescu Quartet and the experimental sound artist and producer, Christos Fanaras (Acid Witch Mountain/Elephant House). In 2015 Saints Don’t Sleep, her EP produced by Richard Frenneaux (Red Light Company/Laura Welsh) was released. Complimented by an exhibition of Wendy’s photographic work and music video accompanying her new songs. The full project was launched at the IMPOSSIBLE Project Space in Paris.
Several of Wendy’s songs have been synched with feature films including Hanging on the Wire (2015) on ‘Anti-Social’ the Brit gangster movie directed by Reg Traviss and the Pacitti Company feature film, On Landguard Point scored by Michael Nyman in 2012 which featured her song Starless Night (Co-Written by David McAlmont).
Love From the Moon, her single released on Unknown Pleasures Records in February 2016, rose to number one in the European Alternative Charts, paving the way for the success of her recent EP release entitled Sweet Dedication. The ethereal, electronic EP coxes us down the darkly-lit corridors of her universe to the throb of the synth, featuring two tracks from Wendy’s debut album Rose and Thorn produced by Marc Collin. The cold-wave, minimalist synth album in the wake of heroes like Suicide and Kas Product, mainly recorded on a Jupiter 8 and vintage drum machines, featuring live strings arranged and performed by the Balanescu Quartet. The album was released on Kwaidan and !K7 Records in September 2016. The backdrop of minimalist post-punk basslines throb under Wendy’s dark vocals, accompanied by glimmers of needling synths and reverb-laden electronic organ, coming together to create a oeuvre that sits somewhere between Siouxsie Sioux and the dramatic mini-symphonies of Brooklyn’s Wood Kid. The album will take possession of your soul without you noticing.
Her solo exhibition Slow Light opened in 2014 at London’s COB gallery and has since been shown at the SOHO Review Gallery (2015) Like much of Bevan’s work, the show is an exploration of the self portrait, captured on polaroid film through multiple exposures printed onto silk, creating a multicoloured smorgasbord of vision surrounded by an experimental violin album composed by Bevan. Suspended in space, the installation captures a multi coloured, multi-faceted self portrait. The exhibit includes photographic prints, projections and a musical soundscape demonstrating her full multimedia practice as expressed via the portal of her signature style. Developing her work with photographic self portraiture, inspired by contemporary artists as diverse as Cindy Sherman and Laurie Anderson.
The various roles Wendy has cast herself over the last decade, be it as vocalist, violinist, lyricist, photographer, filmmaker, artist and performer she melts and morphs wherever a concept leads her, conceiving and manipulating her work as a means of creating a character, enabling her to deliver immersive experiences to her audiences. Wendy is a visionary and her love of theatricality is ever present in whatever she pursues. The world she creates as an artist will continue to mesmerise, inspire and bewilder audiences.
Photograph: Emma Engkvist