Born in Aberdare, Wales in 1943, Beard studied at the University of London and the Royal College of Art. Beard has had a distinguished teaching career throughout England and Australia co – producing and appearing in a series of programmes for BBC television in the UK, before arriving in Western Australia in 1983 to become Head of Fine Art, at Curtin University, Perth. In 1989 he resigned from teaching in order to devote his full attention to his practice.
In 1998 he was Artist-In-Residence and his work was the subject of a solo exhibition titled After Adraga at the Tate St Ives in the UK. In 2000/1, His work Wanganui Heads was selected to represent the year ‘1998’ in The London National Portrait Gallery’s Painting the Century, a Hundred years of Portrait Masterpieces. In 2002, Beard exhibited in HEAD ON: Art with the Brain in Mind, at The Science Museum, London, England. He held a solo exhibition titled After Adraga II at the The Gulbenkian’s Centro de Arte Moderna in Lisbon, Portugal, and at The Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. In 2009 the late William Wright curated a survey exhibition titled Headlands, works from 1993 -2007 for The Drill Hall Gallery in Canberra. In 2010 a large body of work titled Gesichtlos- die Ästhetik des Diffusen/ Faceless- the aesthetics of Diffusion, was exhibited at Kunsthalle Darmstadt in Germany. His most recent solo shows in London have been at Hales Galley and at The Fine Art Society Gallery. In 2013 he exhibited at The Royal Academy of Art’s exhibition titled ‘Australia’.
John Beard’s work has been exhibited worldwide and is held in the collections of major gallery museums and institutions.