Escaping by Ben Ark

Artist In Focus - Ben Ark

About the artist

My style slips from precise photorealistic detail to less defined washes of colour. Using traditional techniques alongside digital technology I create artworks largely featuring contemporary landscapes, cityscapes and urban areas.

I look to encourage thought about the rich and varied life of a city and stimulate conversation about how we exist within, alongside and sometimes in the face of a landscape and the secrets it holds. I aim to continue a conversation that other artists began and encourage the viewer to experience a deep appreciation of the beauty of everyday life.

Compositionally, I like to work with symmetry across my art (left to right) and where possible through the work (top to bottom.) I work best completing a number of pieces together at the same time. This allows me to revisit an artwork after a few days with fresh eyes and see what adjustments need to be made. It also allows me to create works with shared colour palettes, so that a collection sits better together.

The creation of my artwork uses traditional painting techniques alongside technology. I use acrylic paint, watercolour, ink, digital mixed media collage (merging hand painted areas and elements of digital photographs), pigment prints, resins, gels and pastes on wooden art panels.

Recent exhibitions include Manchester Art Fair 2019, Liverpool Art Fair 2019 and the inaugural ‘Open [1] exhibition’ at Salford Museum and Art Gallery. In 2018 I was proudly selected to represent the City of Salford in the ‘Technology: Past & Future’ exhibition, hosted by Quays Culture. In 2017 I was chosen to exhibit at Warrington Contemporary Art Festival and the Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition in London.

It was a pleasure to be awarded the title of ‘Salford Creative Communities Champion’ in 2015 and be chosen for the neo:artprize, where my work was exhibited alongside fellow contemporary visual artists from around the world. I proudly live and work in Salford.

Reflections on lockdown

I very much enjoy observing the world around me, celebrating everyday beauty and joy in the little things. During this period of lockdown, even tasks that may have been viewed as boring or functional have been missed when no longer in our lives.

Suddenly, mundane and regular things have their own kind of allure. One example is freedom of movement in a world that is, understandably, limited to essential travel and no unnecessary journeys.

Many of the works I created during lockdown reference journeys. Most feature ‘roadscapes’ that have been inspired by the travels we previously took for granted. The works feature road markings, lights on poles, street furniture and brake lights bleeding into the darkness. They have a visual identity and setting that many people will have viewed their own version of. A visual identity that is recognisable even when having never been there. For me, they inspire a nostalgic view of my own personal associations with a place and time.

We have to see the environment around us to fully understand our place within it.

Looking forward, I wonder whether people will emerge from this pandemic with a changed perspective. It will be interesting to see how people reflect on the many hours spent in queues of traffic on their daily commute. When we are hemmed in by the traffic once more in the future, will we cherish the joy of having freedom of movement again or revert to becoming frustrated at how long the journey is taking. Some people may even feel inspired to reduce their car use or take action to be more considerate of the environment and others.

My hope is that many people have a new outlook on life. Often, what we see can depend largely upon what we look for. I hope that more people will be thankful for the mundane, reflecting on the beauty of the little things around us. The way light reflects in a puddle or the smile of a loved one.

I hope will we be appreciative of having choice and thankful for our freedom once again. There are many uncertainties facing us in the future. One thing that is certain is that we will all have an individual story to tell. A time that kept many of us physically apart may end up bringing us all together in terms of shared experiences, beliefs and approaches to life.

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