Ben Young is a self-taught artist who has been creating glass sculpture for over 15 years and has presented alongside well-known artists around the world. Having spent most of his life living in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, it was easy to explore local landscape or surroundings near him as early inspiration for art back then when he just started out, since there were no colleges that offered studies on this type of work at the time.
As a surfer and boat builder, he is mostly affected by the ocean. So it’s no surprise that his eponymous glass forms bring these passions together in their construction–though this doesn’t come without preparation! He constructs versions of designs; draws templates on paper to leave custom jigs which will later be cut with a glazier’s hand-tool.
The complexity comes from the preparation phase where Blake states: ‘I do a lot of thinking before I even start drawing or cutting’. Then he sketches out concepts by hand while creating technical drawings using traditional techniques such as tracings and projections
‘I use 2D shapes and need to work out how to interpret that into a 3D completed piece. Occasionally my starting point varies radically since I must discover a way to layer the glass to make certain shapes.’
‘How I use the glass enables me to portray so many distinct elements of my conceptual thoughts,’ he says.
I love it when light illuminates my work. It’s as though the piece is coming to life, like a ball of electricity and energy that promises something new with every turn in its smooth curves. I especially enjoy how viewers might imagine what their world would look like with things such beautiful shapes flowing through them-all the lovely irony between glass being this fragile yet seemingly eternal material while these organic forms seem so alive!
At one point the acquisition of a large number of recycled glass by an old glass-house provoked new thoughts and ideas around the creation of life, at Life Within Series. The concept which it had previously been used to house life and expansion inspired him to make his own living forms like a figure, inside this piece of art. This idea was complemented with the lamination process because every work grew from being one solitary coat on the top surface into many layers that together form whole pieces.
Young’s abstract art is a mixture of natural and industrial elements. He likes how the use of concrete complements his glass sculptures, which are often inspired by water features he finds in nature or coastlines that remind him of his home country. In addition to reflecting on these subjects visually through paintings and drawings, Young also explores their textures with tactile pieces made from bronze wax carvings.