ArtMaybe if we could just talk about the weather

Maybe if we could just talk about the weather

Local artist Will Bertram ties together environmentalism and mindfulness in his artistic exploration of the Railway Walk.

Will’s art is exhibited across the island, but I first came across it when working at Common Ground. I spent less time making coffee and more time wiping the table next to his work. There was something about them that I loved, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Was it the vivid colours? The bold outlines? A lingering sense of some unrealised meaning? The attempt to understand myself made for a deep existentialism. That, and a very clean table.


Will describes his work as “contemporary drawing”. He takes inspiration from fine art, art-history, pop-culture and social commentary, rolling it all together with his experiences and nature.

His pieces are packed with Studio Ghibli references, a Japanese animation studio I’ve recently become obsessed with. They are the perfect addition to any day spent horizontal. Hopeful instrumentals, beautiful artwork, what more do you want?

Will shares my love of Studio Ghibli, which he praises for its “masterful simplicity”. 

“They put so much effort and care into their animations, each frame is a work of art… no brush stroke or line is wasted”.

He champions the metaphorical nature of the animations, which seep into the artwork and storytelling. Their portrayal of love and loss he finds “honest and relatable”, whilst the natural elements speak volumes for conservationism. He believes that ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ reveals “the comfort we can find in nature and embracing our inner child in times of grief”. Through this we can restore the flow of the creative juices that spur our projects.

“I have definitely had those moments of stagnation when you feel like nothing is moving. Those are the times I focus on the mental game, researching, meditating and focusing on yoga and sea swimming. Quite often a solution will emerge when in the sea or whilst doing yoga, or even just on a dog walk.”

More recently, it was the Railway Walk that inspired Will’s artistic endeavours. ‘Maybe if we could just talk about the weather’ (a title inspired by Foals, not excruciating small-talk) depicts the natural wreckage wrought by Storm Ciaran. In light of climate change and extreme weather conditions, Will explains his selection of these lyrics for his piece:

“Culturally weather is a default topic, we talk about it equally as much when it’s good as we do when it’s bad, but we don’t always talk about it in terms of climate and the future.

There’s no doubt that as the climate crisis develops, we’ll be talking about the weather even more”.

A future dominated by bone-dry conversation is a looming reality. If that doesn’t turn you into an environmentalist, I don’t know
what will.

There’s another element to the piece, which Will embroidered into his creation. Nestled between branches and bushes are star-gazers, tree houses, kites, tunnels and portraits. The Kaonashi even appears, a subtle nod towards Studio Ghibli’s ‘Spirited Away’. Large men in orange are seen clearing the mess, but a closer look reveals hidden people, finding rest in the chaos.

This is a reminder of the importance of meditation, and finding a space to breathe amidst the shambles of everyday life. The destroyed natural elements represent “the metaphorical debris of anxiety which lingered in the community after the storm”. Will believes it is important for us to find solace and peace within our minds, and live with the mental clutter that is a side-product of our imperfect world.

“I never intended for the piece to become so personal, but as I was drawing, I kept finding ways to insert details that represented my mindfulness practice. There’s lots in there referencing past work, global events and my own anxieties.”

“It’s easy to feel hopeless when faced with such huge international events, like the ongoing genocide in Palestine and the looming climate catastrophe. But it’s also important to remember to be kind to ourselves. We can’t help anyone if we can’t help ourselves”.

The piece has me mesmerised, alongside the other works in Will’s collection. He’s done projects ranging from the size of a stamp to massive murals across a wall.

Even the smallest of these have received international attention: his Christmas stamp issue with Jersey Post bagged a place at the World Post & Parcel Awards. Off the back of this, he created his own stamp issue based around composer Claude DeBussy’s time in Jersey. Keep your eyes peeled for these when they debut in the summer.

He’s currently in hot pursuit of larger-scale work, after the excitement of making murals in Jersey Art Centre’s artist lock-in. Will is up for whatever the world throws at him, and I’d recommend his artwork to anyone. Maybe aside from my employers – and only if the tables are already squeaky clean.

Will’s work can be found at Cargo, Common Ground, Framing & Art, The Merchants and The Yard. For projects, commissions or enquiries, drop him a message on Instagram.

Instagram: @billwertram

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