Waves of Inspiration

Stunning Nautical Sculptures made of Glass and Concrete

New Zealander, Ben Young is a keen surfer and used to ply his trade as a boat-builder. It’s perhaps unsurprising that when he decided to strike out as an artist, that he might take a good deal of inspiration from the sea. Ben is self-taught, but his incredible hand-drawn, hand-cut and handcrafted sculptures made from concrete (standard cement with additives to strengthen and reduce shrinkage) and float glass are truly something to behold.

“I just try to portray the beauty in nature and forms,” Ben tells us. “There is also an underlying tone of solitude and the scale of human existence in nature. Hopefully it would emphasise that we need to look after what we have.”

Ben now lives in Sydney, so many of his pieces act like an homage to the landscapes of his native New Zealand. “I have been lucky enough to travel to different parts of the world and have released that the scenery found in NZ is world class, I may be a little biased!”

In depicting the ocean, glass seems like quite a logical choice of material to use, as it has the same translucent quality. It is however, notoriously brittle, though Ben expertly gives his work a delightful fluidity. At the same time, the pieces are quite monumental, reflecting the gravity of the landscapes they depict.

Ben told opened up to us about his work:

The Plus: How did you go about making the transition from boat-builder to artist?
Ben Young:
For me the only transition was when I started to make a living from the art so I could take some time off boat building. I did both side by side for many years and was lucky enough to have a boss that would let me take time off to focus on my art when I needed to. In the end you just have to commit and say this is my job and have a go.

TP: What is glass like as a material to work with?
Glass is the most amazing but unforgiving medium work with. It will always surprise you with new ways when it catches the light in different shapes but it only takes one wrong move or lack of concentration and it can be all over.

TP: What do you hope people take away from your work?
My goal is not to tell people what they should experience when viewing my work rather than I hope it reminds them of their own experiences or feelings of place they have visited or would like to go. I guess to take them on a journey of some kind.

TP: Do you have any other hidden talents, besides surfing?
I don’t really know if they are talents but I also really enjoy skateboarding and love photography both film and digital when I get the time.

TP: Do you have any plans for the future?
I am currently working on new work to be shown as part of SOFA in Chicago in early November. But the biggest at the moment is my wife being pregnant with our first child, an exciting time ahead.