Beka was born in Canterbury, Kent in 1975, daughter of the international concert pianist Ronald Smith.
After completing her GCSEs and A-levels at Ashford School for Girls in 1993, she went on to study at the Kent Institute of Art and Design (Maidstone) and Hastings College of Arts and Technology. She graduated from the University of the West of England (with a BA Honours degree in Art and Visual Culture) in 1998. Throughout her years of training she has counterbalanced her official design and technology-based studies with a private passion for painting, drawing and in particular portraiture.
She started her own business in 2001 using her own graphic images and illustration work which she applied to design-led products including T-shirts, greetings cards and prints. A grant from the Princes Trust enabled her to exhibit at trade fairs including ‘Top Drawer’, where her work was spotted by a clothing company based in the West Country and she was commissioned to design a series of characters under the name ‘Stargirl’. She was head-hunted by Locomocean, a design company based in the London's iconic Oxo Tower. Here she produced work from product design and development, through to packaging and graphics work for large companies, including John Lewis, Debenhams and Urban Outfitters, alongside many other stores and shops. She was made senior designer there in 2006, while continuing to produce portraits in her own time. She has since given up her work as a designer, to pursue portraiture full-time.
In 2005 Beka was commissioned by Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge to make a pencil portrait of Dr Charles Leslie Wayper, the distinguished historian, academic educator and Life Fellow of the College. She was so struck by him that she undertook a more involved portrait of Dr Wayper. This was short listed for the BP Portrait Awards 2006 and voted third in ‘The Peoples Choice’. It was exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery, London, Aberdeen Arts Gallery and Bristol Academy of Arts. Since then, she has been involved in both private and public commissions including her portrait of Emeritus Professor Rosemary Cramp which is in the permanent collection at the Society of Antiquaries.
2000 Exhibition at the Chicane Cafe Bristol.
2000 Exhibition at Eat The Beat Bristol.
2000 The Southwark Tavern London.
2009 Smith Solo exhibition at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, October 19th- 30th.
1999 Assistant Co-ordintor in R.A.C.E Exhibition at Bristol Museum.
2000 Beka Smith and Miche designs The Southwark Tavern London.
2006 BP Portrait Awards: portrait of Dr Wayper exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery, London, Aberdeen Arts Gallery. and Bristol Academy of Arts. Portrait voted third in ‘The Peoples Choice’.
2009 Featured artist for Christmas Group Exhibition at ‘Chimaera Gallery’.
2010 Fundraising Group show at '3bedforbury Gallery', Covent Garden london for Haiti, June
2010 shortlisted Group exhibition for London Fringe Festival Award 2010 in 3bedfordbury, London.
2011 'Stories' exhibition at 'The cube, Folkestone November 3rd-29th
Beka Smith and Miche Designs forthcoming exhibition at Paul Mcpherson Gallery September 17th-29th 2012
If you would like to commission Beka for a portrait please contact her on:
Terms and Conditions:
1. One third of the total amount is required on commencement of the work. The balance is to be paid on completion.
2. Additional expenses will include: Delivery of the work on completion. Travel, subsistence and any hotel costs where applicable.
3. Unless otherwise arranged the work will be delivered unframed.