Treacle Art presents Ilva Beretta

1. What motivates you and identifies your work from others?

I think I’m the last person to tell you what identifies my work from others, I’m too close to it to give you a good answer, but I know what motivates me and that is that eternal strive to make a good photo. There are days when I feel satisfied with a photo but then a day or two later, I look at it and I only see what I could have done differently and I start all over again. I’m never really satisfied with what I do, I’m always striving for something that I hopefully one day can reach, that’s my motivation.

2. From your own collection available with Treacle Art, which is your favourite piece?

I think it is the ageing tulips on the marbled paper (see the main image), it is like a camouflage painting, the colours and the forms match surprisingly well.

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3. Who has influenced or inspired your work and why?

There are a quite few photographers that inspire me to work with my camera, my absolute favourite is André Kertész, his innate sense of composition is outstanding and I never tire at looking at what he has done. I also like August Sander, his portraits are brilliant, then there are Eugène Atget’s photos of Paris and beyond, which are inspiring for so many reasons. I have a passion for still life, which isn’t totally in trend at the moment, but when it comes to it I’m inspired by Irving Penn because he had this incredible curiosity when it came to what you can use as a subject matter as well as having a fantastic work ethic that I try to emulate, but I don’t always succeed. Oh and Olivia Parker’s still life work really speaks to me, because she looks at the domestic world with such sensitivity.

4. What made you choose still life as your subject for photography?

I can’t say there ever was a moment when I chose it, it just happened, or at least it feels like it just happened. But if I analyse what I like about it, I realise that I must have chosen it somewhere along the road; I’m very interested in composition and light and where else can you dig into that if not in a studio creating still life?

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5. Did you have another job before becoming a photographer / artist?

Yes, I was an academic. I have a Ph.D. in English Renaissance Poetry and I taught the History of Book Illustration at the University of Siena for several years. I love doing research but I don’t like the academic environment very much, so I left and started a new career, something I’m very happy I did because what I do now is much more fulfilling.

6. What elevates a great picture to Fine Art Photography?

This is a difficult question because I think it is partly lies in the eye of the beholder, but generally speaking I think that what elevates a great photo to fine art is that it calls forth some kind of emotion in the viewer, it makes you think.

7. Have you got any exciting trips/shoots planned?

No, but when inspiration for a new project hits me it is like going on a trip and that can happen anytime!

8. Where is your happy place?

I have two happy places, my little studio and in bed reading. Writing this I realise that both are places where I can forget myself. I don’t really know what that says about me ...

9. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?


10. We believe #WallsNeedArt what do you have hanging on your wall?

Not my own photos but a lot of old prints and paintings by friends. To be honest we don’t have that much space for art because we have too many books, my husband is a bibliophile but I have managed to keep some wall space free. 

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View Ilva's full collection of beautiful still life images here