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Art Watch : Ben Young

Ben Young is in focus for our Art Watch for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

What does it take to create great art ? Is it imagination, the will to continue with a legacy, inspiration – perhaps a mix of all of this – but without courage perhaps there would be no progress. Demonstrating this is former boat maker, turned artist Ben Young.

It is a little impossible to describe Ben Young’s incredible creations. Living in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, Young is a self-taught artist who has been creating glass sculptures for over 15 years. Young’s craft includes creating a unique perspective through the use of a simple medium, but difficult to work. He creates scenes revolving around the Ocean – a force of nature that he has loved and respects immensely.

He shows what lies beneath and on the underside of the ocean floor, behind cave walls. His sculptural works showcase the world of the waters. The human figures he places that offset the vastness, are cast from bronze. The waters are from glass, and earth from concrete. The steel holds everything in place, and the final touch is the lighting, which brings it all alive. It can be safely said that that to bend such sturdy, rigid materials and make them look so fragile and beautiful, is the work of a master artist.

Why Ben Young?

Always creatively bent, he was inspired when he was travelling through Europe at a young age with his family and he potted in a shop window, a display made of laminated glass in a jewellery store. There was something about the quality of light that glass refracted that made a lasting impression on his young mind. The idea remained with him and as soon as he was old enough to start, he played around with the available tools and material in his fathers workshop. He started with experimenting with layered glass and making waves.

Though he was always creating things and working with his hands, the mesmerising qualities of glass that completely captured him. As for all artist who are self taught, it took years of trial and error, followed by nail biting-testing to perfecting the techniques. But Ben says that he is a problem solver and meticulous – the two qualities that are topmost for the kind of work he does. He taught himself about the restraints of the glass, the properties as well as the limitations of the medium to create certain shapes.

Above all Ben Young is a story teller. The boat maker in him sees the hand of nature and admires her architecture. Effortlessly he is able to see the relationship between elements – wind, sailboat, lighthouse and people. Though his materials are clear, but he is able to imbue a balance between the unexpected and expected. The free-flowing water is deliberately given  a geometric edge, while rock-structures seem as sharp as they do smooth. All in all it all feels like a coming together of opposites the chaos and the calm — the dynamic, and the stilling.


“On a more personal level I think it was a battle with in my own self to create snap shots of places of solitude you could escape the chaos and pressures of modern day society.” He says.

The love Young has for the ocean and surfing is something that passionate watersports people can understand. Safe to assume that his art grew from these two passions. His process is extremely involved as he uses different types of glass which he often sources from industrial waste as well. After hand drawing, cutting and then laying the pieces of glass he achieves what he set out to.

The names of his work are more about extending the theme of the expanse of the world and the scale of elements and their comparative to the human existence. It also reinforces and brings to the fore, the importance of its conservation as it is so fragile.

For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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