Benjamin Shine creates artworks through innovation.
Juliet Cullinan discovers the light behind the genius.
Creative explorer Benjamin Shine’s unique effects, fashioned from tulle, captivate critics and collectors worldwide. He creates wall-sized portraits from a single veil of tulle that cascades down the canvas with all the fragility of rising smoke or a cloud patterned by the wind. Captured within these ethereal airy swirls, delicate facial features display the visual sparkle and thickness of a freshly painted oil or varnished masterpiece, while maintaining a natural glow. Shine uses his hot iron – as a conductor might use a baton – to crimp, tweak and adjust the fabric to capture his sitter’s facial likeness through shadow, depth and dimension. That Shine can achieve such spine-chilling accuracy from the random scrunching of netting is an artistic breakthrough. Achieving a great likeness with a pencil or paintbrush is difficult enough but creating it while balancing on a ladder and using a hot iron to melt the shape beneath his hand, is sheer genius.
Shine is an inventor, a true artist. He speaks of his work modestly, unravelling his successes in an unpretentious manner that belies all his global awards and designer commissions.
“Having studied fashion, fabric has continued to influence and inspire me, especially ideas of construction, craftsmanship and material manipulation. In my tulle work, I try to work respectfully in harmony with the material through portraits, installations and my new ‘tulle flows’. Where my portraits are focused on accuracy and true likeness, these flows centre on the more emotive qualities inherent in this delicate material. In my new series, Slow Motion, the work explores quiet contemplation and those true moments of calm and introspection.” he explains.
Talking to Shine, I discover a designer with an eye for clarity. He breaks rules and inspires the masses with his pioneering pieces that combine realism and revolutionary craft. His art is unlimited, undefined, flowing and timeless; his talent, inspiring. His projects span furniture, clothing, children’s games and household décor.