12 March 2018
A leading manufacturer in Birmingham has their very own “artist in residence”, who specialises in painting portraits of some of the leading business and political figures in the region, writes Jessica Brookes.
Izabela ‘Venuso’ Okonska works for former Birmingham Chamber president and leading business figure Simon Topman, managing director of Acme Whistles, a whistle developer and manufacturer based in the Jewellery Quarter.
However, her talent as an artist is making waves in the city, with her stunning portraits depicting some of the region’s leading business figures such as Simon and Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell.
Izabela, who paints under the name “Venuso” (meaning Venus in Esperanto), grew up in Bialystok, a historic, expansive metropolis in the North East of Poland. Before moving to Birmingham in 2011, Izabela connects much of her passion for art to her home. She said:
“When I was young, I collected lots of original drawings by artists and my room was covered with pictures. However at that moment I didn’t realise I had talent. It was only when I was persuaded by my art teacher that I discovered that I had innate ability to paint and an intuition to use that skill to craft a way of making an image tell a story and convey an atmosphere.”
This sparked her talent for painting and was realised in the Midlands, when Izabela moved to Sutton Coldfield and began working at Sutton Coldfield Contemporary Art. Surrounded by inspiring art from the range of talent the Midlands provided, Izabela took paintbrush to canvas and started to hone her craft. Without any formal education in art, she began to express her creativity and passion, focusing on portraits of the people who surrounded her.
Izabela takes time to capture a variety of photographs of her subjects and get a “feel and mood” for her subjects.
“When I paint portraits I have found that ‘faces’ have depth, they are the window of the soul, and I can really feel that person and connect with them,” Said Izabela.
She continued: “Portraits leave a lasting legacy. Photographs are so often forgotten, however paintings have a more visible life that spans generations, and creates a real sense of the presence of a personality beyond their lifetime.”
Simon Topman commented: "Izabela’s range of work demonstrates how talented she is, we can’t wait to see what else she will produce over the year that people will continue to cherish and admire.
He continued: "It’s great to have somebody with true artistic and creative flair in the business. We encourage all our employees embrace that flair and creativity that Izabela has demonstrated in her art.”
Izabela is currently selling her completed portraits to raise money for several charitable projects in Greater Birmingham, including raising funds for 10-year-old Isabella Lyttle, from Walsall, who is fighting neuroblastoma.
Pictured: Izabela Venuso and Simon Topman alongside her portrait of Simon