Drawn to a life of creativity, artist Benjamin Shine crafts sublime installations working with tulle
It was a sight to behold. The single black line ran from one side of the wall to the other before trailing down over the skirting board and ending in a mass of black fingerprints on the floor. It was an absolute masterpiece, though my parents remember it as more of a costly oversight on their part — the result of leaving me, a curious 2-year-old, unattended for a mere moment with an open makeup bag.
Thankfully, that early curiosity and instinct to draw has lead to a career of creativity. Following my fashion design studies in London, I became disillusioned at the prospect of designing ideas for a disposable trend-based market. Instead, I began to focus on ways to use fabric and other materials as a communicative medium to express broader ideas and challenge perceptions.
Benjamin Shine discusses his magnificent wedding “gift”
To date, I’ve painted, plastered, sewn, sawn, glued, drilled, and sculpted my way through countless projects for numerous markets, using myriad materials. Throughout this journey, fabric has always remained at the core. Currently, my main focus is on my tulle work, where my interest lies in using the delicate material to express ideas of energy and transience. In these artworks, a single length of tulle reveals a portrait or the suggestion of an image within its flowing form, as if capturing a fleeting moment in time.
I developed the tulle technique after noticing an old remnant of crumpled tulle on the floor of my studio. The beauty of tones created by the folds in the fabric intrigued me, and I wondered if those pleats could be manipulated to form a recognizable image. Eventually, I found a way by pressing and pleating a length of the material into a shape with an iron. It took a couple of years to refine my skills, especially becoming accustomed to ”painting” with a household iron, but it’s now second nature (although strangely, I still can’t iron a shirt properly).
The artist, discussing his work with the medium of tulle
My latest large-scale installation has been a true test of my own creative ability. It’s also been a great lesson in reminding me of the importance of remaining open to the potential of the subject at hand. Over recent years, I noticed the success of my tulle work had begun to deter me from developing it further. I’d grown to believe I’d found the only worthwhile technique this material could offer.
When I received an invitation to create a large-scale public installation, I knew it had to be in tulle but had no idea how to make it. I decided to reassess my beliefs and essentially start from scratch – to forget what I knew and to question what else this material could become and convey. The end result came as a huge surprise to me. I discovered several new techniques, which have opened up some entirely new avenues to explore.
A silent exploration of his installation, Dance
I believe limiting our beliefs prevents us from realizing our own potential. It can deter us from even trying something new, but therein lies the opportunity to learn, discover, and grow – and, we hope, be surprised by the outcome. Creativity can be a mysterious thing, but accessing its limitless resources is not a mystery. Through an attitude of playfulness, curiosity, and questioning, ideas can flourish and new avenues can open up. Being creative and bringing ideas to life is a profoundly rewarding experience and a seriously satisfying feeling. However, that feeling rarely lasts long enough, as soon another idea takes hold and a new adventure begins!
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Learn more at: benjaminshine.com
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