Benjamin Shine: “There’s an energy present that provokes bigger thoughts”.

Benjamin Shine: “There’s an energy present that provokes bigger thoughts”.

Since graduating Central Saint Martins University, London, British born artist Benjamin Shine has captivated the art world using simply a clothing iron and length of fabric. His sculptural portraits crafted from tulle have grown famous for their other-worldy nature, and been recognized everywhere from exhibitions at the New York MET and UK Crafts Council, being named as one of the most influential people shaping fashion today by BOF, receiving the Enterprising Young Brit Award and Arts Export Award in Australia, and collaborating with the world's leading designers. Based between London, New York and Australia, we spoke with Benjamin about travel and creative life in NYC.

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ON WHERE YOU’RE FROM 

London originally, but I’ve been living between London, Australia and New York for several years now.

ON LONDON TO NEW YORK 

It was 2016  – for various projects that I needed to be there for.

ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH NEW YORK 

It’s a place that’s always provided opportunities for me, so I cherish my time there and it excites me being there.

ON WINDOW SEAT OR AISLE

Window as I like to look out.

Between London, New York and Australia. Top: Photo by Seoyeon Choi. Bottom: Photo by Robert Bye.

ON A PIECE OF ADVICE THAT TRAVELS WITH YOU

Always look at what you’re doing, while you’re doing it. This advice was given to me by my tutor at Central St Martins, Louise Wilson.

ON HOW NEW YORK INSPIRES YOUR CREATIVE WORK

There’s an energy present that provokes bigger thoughts…to take ideas to their extreme.

New York is a place that’s always provided opportunities for me, so I cherish my time there and it excites me.. There’s an energy present that provokes bigger thoughts…to take ideas to their extreme.

ON A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORK LIFE IN LONDON AND NEW YORK

Being British in New York is surprisingly beneficial! The novelty of the accent seems to retain a refreshing element in general work and social situations. Aside from that, I find it a more convenient place to work, to deal with and meet suppliers, as in London they can often be further outside London or a bigger mission to get to.

Benjamin Shine’s large scale ‘Sky Flow’ sculpture. Constructed from tulle fabric it is a self supporting 80 x 20ft sculpture that changes in color with the sky behind. Images courtesy Benjamin Shine.

ON AN CHALLENGE YOU EXPERIENCED BEING BASED IN THE USA 

Mainly completing the various visa forms and paperwork required. Having visited New York for many years I’ve become familiar with the city so I’ve gradually got my bearings so that wasn’t quite so difficult.

For inspiration visit the Gallery Open Nights on Thursday evenings. From 21st to 28th street between 9th and 11th, many galleries open their doors and hundreds of gallery-hoppers wander along enjoying the art and the free drinks…it’s a great atmosphere.

ON ADVICE FOR CREATIVE PEOPLE LANDING IN NEW YORK 

Research and visit several areas to live and consider the ease of doing the smaller, trivial day-to-day things such as making sure you have less than two blocks to walk to a grocery store….it makes a big difference! The city is also loud so check your street is not one of the fire engine through fares. A lot of people find that out the hard way and have sirens going past their window every night.

Benjamin’s work has captivated the art, design and fashion communities for its true originality. His sculptures involve a large sheet of tulle fabric, a clothing iron and his artistic vision. Images courtesy Benjamin Shine.

ON THE STORY OF YOUR ORIGINAL ARTWORKS

I first worked with tulle during my studies in fashion design, then in 2002, I began using the material to create image based artworks. It wasn’t until 2008 / 2009 that I developed the technique of pleating the material to create images within the folds.

The city is loud so check your street is not one of the Fire Engine through fares…a lot of people find that out the hard way and have sirens going past their window every night.

ON A PROJECT YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT 

In recent years I’ve developed the ‘Flow’ series which depict abstract faces formed from single lengths of uncut tulle. It’s been a long-standing ambition of mine to develop these works as self supporting sculptures. After several years of attempting this I finally achieved it via designing my own specific rigid net made from recycled HDPE net.

Top: Collaboration with John Galliano for Maison Margiela. The portrait made from tulle floats over the trench coat so as to move independently, and took over 300 hours to make over the course of several months before making headlines at Paris Couture Fashion Week. Bottom: ‘The Dance’ installation. Relying on the structural properties of the fabric alone, the installation is entirely made of tulle and thread. Images courtesy Benjamin Shine.

ON FINDING CREATIVE INSPIRATION IN NEW YORK

The Museum of Arts and Design /  any of the flea markets / The New York Library. The Gallery Open Nights on Thursday evenings. From 21st to 28th street between 9th and 11th, many galleries open their doors and hundreds of gallery-hoppers wander along enjoying the art and the free drinks. It’s a great atmosphere.

ON WHAT’S PLAYING WHEN YOU TRAVEL

I listen to a lot of different music, but I’ve always loved Stevie Wonder – despite being blind, his creative vision, technical abilities and talents are other-worldly and hugely inspiring.

ON WHO IS INSPIRING YOU IN CULTURE RIGHT NOW 

Paul Hawken and his important project and book, Drawdown.

ON NEW YORK IN ONE WORD

Motivating.

Top: ‘Seeing Through The Material’. A hand sewn tulle installation created for Bergdorf Goodman 5th Avenue windows, New York. Images courtesy Benjamin Shine.

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Nuggets in this interview

events

Gallery Open Night, New York

"The Gallery Open Nights on Thursday evenings. From 21st to 28th street between 9th and 11th, many galleries open their doors".

–Benjamin Shine

inspiration

New York Public Library

"Inspiration..The New York Library".

–Benjamin Shine

inspiration

Art and Design Museum, New York

"Inspiration..The Museum of Arts and Design".

–Benjamin Shine

inspiration

Drawdown by Paul Hawken

"Paul Hawken and his wonderful project and book, Drawdown".

–Benjamin Shine

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