Meet the team

Ben Nicolas

Ben is an artist who creates large organic ceramic sculptures and landscape paintings. He has been part of the ASC Studios in Kingston since it opened in 2012 and is the chairman of the artists’ community, Hawks Road Artists, which runs the open studios annually. Previously he was at Wimbledon Art Studios where he was part of the community for seven years. Ben is also an Art Technician for Raynes Park High School where he assists with the running of the Art Department supporting both the staff and students. Ben has lived in Merton all his life, loving being near the bustle of the city but likes to escape to the wild countryside.

Wendy Bliss

Co-Founder of the Merton Arts Trail / Festival

Wendy Bliss studied Design & Fine Art at Central St Martins and Wimbledon School of Art. Passionate about arts in the community, she has organised/curated many art shows/exhibitions for charities, notably the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability. Whilst co-founding the Merton Arts Trail (2010-16), Wendy also curated 4 site-specific exhibitions in the ruins of Merton Priory Chapter House (supported by Marcus Beale and the MoL), and was proud to win the Merton Guardian Civic Award for services to the Arts & Entertainment in 2014.

Wendy is delighted to join the steering committee for Merton Arts Festival in the run up to its 10th anniversary in 2020.

This self-portrait is part of a series where Wendy considered the nature-nurture elements in family likeness – here with her maternal grandfather.

Paul Tanner

Paul is an artist and photographer who has lived in Merton for much of his life. He has been a freelance photographer for 20 years and has recently launched his own design business. He has been involved with MAF as a volunteer since 2016 usually helping out with design tasks, and has exhibited in the festival every year since.

Paul calls himself a painter but in fact he works in many mediums from paints to photography, drawing to assemblage.

Wendy McTernan

Wendy originally trained as a graphic designer. She mainly worked directly with clients on a range of design projects, including the launch of the Magimix in the UK. Her career developed into wider communications, including copywriting, direct marketing and fundraising with two international charities. Latterly, she worked for a market research company, carrying out surveys with visitors to art galleries and museums in central London. With a designer’s eye and a fund of ideas, she is good at seeing possibilities and developing opportunities in creative ways. She has lived in London her whole life; in Wimbledon for over 40 years.

Why are you involved in Merton Arts Festival?

‘I believe that to be an artist is a high calling and that works of art can speak in unique ways. Beautiful or ugly, thought-provoking or a revelation, art allows us to see life and the world from another perspective. It can be prophetic and influential, as Oscar Wilde once humorously declared, “There was no fog in London before Whistler painted it.”

‘Picasso is famously reported to have said in a discussion about Cubism: “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realise truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.” As they wrestle with the task of creating art, artists learn about themselves, the kind of people they are, and the result may create in us a sense of relationship or enquiry. I believe that art can be transformative: for the maker, the viewer, or the buyer who brings an authentic object or painting into their home or office.’

Elisabeth Monro

Social Media Manager

Elisabeth has over 15 years’ experience in Arts Sponsorship and Events Management. Following some time out after having her two children, she recently completed the six-month Social Media Management Associate Programme run by Digital Mums.

Elisabeth is not an artist herself but loves working within the creative sector. She enjoys doing various crafting projects in her spare time. Born in Glasgow, she has lived in Wimbledon for twelve years.