ARTIST Q&A: Meet Alexandra, the artist behind the bear-utiful Hettie The Heritage Bear!
Name: Alexandra Hatfield
Bear name: Hettie the Heritage Bear
Business that chose your bear: MHA MacIntyre and Hudson
Hi Alexandra, thanks so much for talking to us today! Firstly, we’d love to know why you decided to get involved in The Big Sleuth?
The reason I wanted to get involved in The Big Sleuth was to set myself a challenge! I believe that taking a risk and stepping out of your comfort zone will help you develop and grow creatively. I also wanted to inspire the students that I teach to take part in art, to see that there are opportunities as an artist to make a difference. My students have loved learning about the process of The Big Sleuth from the artist’s point of view, and taking part in the trail themselves. Of course, I also wanted to help fundraise for an extremely worthy charity – Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.
That’s lovely! Do you have any connection to Birmingham Children’s Hospital?
Not personally, however I am a full-time secondary school teacher. So a lot of the students that I teach or have taught over the years have been treated by the hospital. It has been brilliant to be part of a project that will help so many children and young people in our region.
So, can you tell us about the inspiration behind your design?
Hettie is a sun bear showcasing Birmingham and its surrounding area’s industrial heritage. I think it’s so important to celebrate the achievements of our ancestors and how they created the founding blocks for Birmingham to be the city it is today. Through my design, I have tried to include a large variation of the different industries that made Birmingham and its surrounding areas great – such as the canals, glass blowing, chain making, mining, lock/key making, steam engines and many more. I have also incorporated the sun bear’s sun marking on its chest using cogs and horseshoes to create a sun shape.
I have also tried to incorporate the ‘Black Country’ flag into my design; you can see this on the front of the bear’s chest. The flag was designed by a student and I believe the youth are the key to the future of Birmingham and the Black Country, so it is important to highlight this. In the design, I have kept to a black, white, red, orange and yellow colour scheme., This relates not only to the Black Country the name but also to the furnaces and fire of the Birmingham’s spirit.
Wow! That’s impressive. How would you describe your artistic style?
Personal experiences, mark making, colour and space are the four elements that form the basis of my work, inspiring and driving my practice forward. I draw influence from my past experiences as an individual, through travelling abroad and exploring the UK. However, I’m keen to encourage the viewer to generate their own observations and concepts about my work.
How long have you been an artist?
My whole life! I think if you are a creative individual or ‘an artist’ it is just something that is natural to you. You have a desire and drive to create in whatever form you enjoy!
So, how did you first get into art?
I come from a creative family. As a child my mom used to take us to visit art galleries and encourage us to create artwork at home. One of my favourite creative activities was going for a walk to collect all the beautiful red, purple and golden coloured leaves at autumn. We then took them home to glue down on paper and create leaf pictures!
How do you feel that you are part of The Big Sleuth, and that your work will help raise funds for the charity?
Bear-illiant! I love being able to use my creative skills and passion for art to help raise money for such a worthy cause!
Do you have any fun facts about your bear?
She is named Hettie after my much loved nan’s rescue dog, who used to follow me everywhere when I was younger. She used to try and eat any wasps or bees that came near me! I wanted Hettie to have a name that was part of my past, just as the design is part of mine and Birmingham’s heritage.
Hettie was also bare-faced or should I say ‘bear-faced’ for quite a long time; as her head was the last thing I painted!
That’s sweet! So, have you taken on the trail yet?
Yes, I have a few times with friends and relatives. It’s been fun to get out and unlock the bears on the app and discover places I have never been in Birmingham!
Finally, can you tell us your best bear joke?
What do you call a bear with no teeth?
…. A gummy bear!
To keep up to date with Alexandra’s artwork and adventures, you can follow her on: